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What they’re saying about the Bengals’ second loss to the Steelers

The Bengals had a prime opportunity to beat a big rival and gain some pride this week, but the team fell apart in the second half of the game.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Bengals managed to stay alive in the playoff race for a considerable amount of time, but the team’s loss to Pittsburgh this week officially eliminates them from the playoff race. The chances of them making it in the first place after falling to 3-7-1 a couple of weeks ago were low enough as it is. But, eight losses was the mathematical line, at least by Week 15.

That said, this week was about beating the hated Steelers. The Bengals almost did, too. as they were leading for more than three quarter. But, as written by Katherine Terrell of ESPN, the Bengals put together an absolutely pathetic effort in the second half and allowed the Steelers to come back.

After leading by 14 points in the second quarter, it looked like the Bengals (5-8-1) were going to scare away the Pittsburgh Steelers-sized elephant in the room and keep their playoff hopes alive another week.

But once again, the Bengals became their own worst enemy and officially eliminated themselves from playoff contention in a mistake-filled 24-20 loss.

The Bengals' losing streak to the Steelers now stretches to four games, and they'll have to wait until next year to try to turn that around.

The Bengals have firmly and repeatedly said they were past all of the things that led to a late-game meltdown against the Steelers (9-5) in the playoffs last year. But when it came down to it, the Bengals couldn't keep their cool when they needed to most.

The Bengals are certainly no strangers to letting a lead slip away due to sloppy play against the Steelers. Everyone knows what happened in last January’s Wild Card game.

Burfict missed the Steelers game earlier this year as a result of his actions, coupled with other safety rule violations last year. There was plenty of attention on how he would control himself this week in a proverbial minefield of things ready to set him off. But, other than a few isolated incidents, Burfict was not the center of the problems this week. In fact, as Adam Stites of SB Nation wrote, he was actually one of the Bengals’ biggest contributors.

Vontaze Burfict was the most dominant defender on the field for the Cincinnati Bengals against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it wasn’t quite enough for the team to hold on to a 20-9 halftime lead, and the Bengals instead lost, 24-20.

Burfict has a complicated history with the Steelers after he essentially ruined the team’s season in 2015. In the regular season he delivered a hit to Le’Veon Bell that caused the running back to require knee surgery, and in the playoffs he delivered a brutal hit to Antonio Brown that knocked the receiver out of the team’s next postseason game.

“We’re cool. No hard feelings,” Burfict told Bengals.com prior to the game, when asked about Bell. “Last year was last year. People say what they say. I hit him perfectly. He tried to keep his feet going. He got hurt. I talked to him since his injury. I told him I’m happy to see him back running. I told him he’s going to come back strong.”

But Burfict certainly seemed to be playing the role of instigator Sunday. He looked to be attempting to agitate both Bell and Brown, who didn’t lash out in return.

Still, on the field there was no denying Burfict’s impact. He made plays all over the field and nearly forced an interception in the first quarter.After leading by 14 points in the second quarter, it looked like the Bengals (5-8-1) were going to scare away the Pittsburgh Steelers-sized elephant in the room and keep their playoff hopes alive another week.

Unfortunately, Burfict playing well and staying out of trouble for most of the game wasn’t enough for the Bengals. In fact, the defense as a whole had a decent game. But, the offense went from rolling in the first half to being completely unable to do anything in the second half. They had four drives in the second half, which ended in a punt, an interception, another punt, and a third punt.

The defense did a decent job of slowing the Steelers’ offense down, but they were simply kept on the field way too long. Eventually, as described by Joe Kay of Yahoo Sports, the multiple field goals from Chris Boswell wore into the Bengals’ lead and allowed the Steelers to come away with the dramatic win.

The Steelers took control of the AFC North by doing a little bit of everything during a month-long winning streak: throwing it, running it, playing some steely defense.

Their fifth straight victory came a whole new way. Call it the kick-6.

Chris Boswell tied the club record with six field goals, and Ben Roethlisberger threw a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter Sunday, rallying Pittsburgh to a 24-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals that kept the Steelers in control of the division.

''We've said we'll win the game how we have to win it,'' Roethlisberger said.

In Cincinnati, they win every which way. Vontaze Burfict was the most dominant defender on the field for the Cincinnati Bengals against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it wasn’t quite enough for the team to hold on to a 20-9 halftime lead, and the Bengals instead lost, 24-20.

The Bengals simply couldn’t stay on offense for very long, which was the main reason why they lost. You could point out faults in the officials, poor game management decisions by the Bengals coaching staff, and some shoddy play by the Bengals’ defense. There was plenty of all of that to craft a solid complaint. But, at the end of the day, the Bengals’ offense can’t get completely shut out through the entire second half and expect to win. NFL games last 60 minutes, and you can’t quit after 30.