Whew. That was an ugly one.
Neither team played well overall in the Bengals’ Week 2 loss to the Steelers, but Pittsburgh did just enough to overcome a mistake-plagued Bengals team that went cold on offense. Here is a look at our winners and losers from the Bengals' first loss of the 2016 season.
The Bengals’ defense allowing 'only' 24 points to the Steelers offense is no easy task, even with the conditions of this game. Doing so with the offense struggling and keeping Cincy's D on the field for seemingly the entire game made this defensive effort even more impressive.
This unit showed flashes of being elite last week against an explosive Jets offense, and they continued to do so against an ever better Steelers offense. Making these performances even better is they both came away from the friendly confines of Paul Brown Stadium.
It's going to be fun to see how this defense does at home next week against a Denver offense that should be a step down from that of New York and Pittsburgh.
The weather made this game easier for the defense to win, but Dre Kirkpatrick was still very impressive on Sunday. On multiple occasions, the Steelers had speed demon Sammie Coates singled up with Kirkpatrick on go routes, but the Bengals corner held up every time and even grabbed an interception.
Dre Kirkpatrick with an interception. https://t.co/xTg1P0rcSl— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) September 18, 2016
Picked off by Dre Kirkpatrick!!! https://t.co/FJO0zxUZrV— Grant Kelly (@GrantKelly07) September 18, 2016
And despite Kirkpatrick's slow start last week vs the Jets, he rebounded to finish that game strong, and he continued that with an overall great game this week. We may FINALLY be seeing the breakthrough that the Bengals have been anticipating from the fifth-year corner.
With the ground game non-existent, Giovani Bernard did his best to make an impact catching passes. He ended up catching nine passes for 100 yards and one score. A lot of his biggest gains were during the fourth-quarter rally, but it was still good to see one of the Bengals backs make an impact in a game in which the ground game went stale.
It may be time to give Bernard some more carries with Jeremy Hill continuing to struggle running the ball. To be fair, the offensive line was getting very little push in this game.
The Bengals offense failed to overcome a downpour of rain and a stingy Steelers defense and dropped a hard-fought contest at Pittsburgh. Cincinnati did just enough to keep to within one score for almost the entire game, but could not muster up enough offense to get revenge over Pittsburgh. Of course, the refs didn’t help.
The ground game was nonexistent, as the Bengals ran for just 46 yards on 18 carries (2.6 ypc). That won't cut it, especially in the AFC North.
Cincinnati had their chances to win this game, despite all the adversity they faced. This offense has to find its identity to get back to the postseason, or else, suffer many more gut-wrenching defeats like this one.
You had to expect the Steelers to go after Darqueze Dennard in this game, and did they ever. After missing over a month of action, Dennard made his 2016 debut in this game after missing all of training camp and the preseason. Of course he was going to be rusty, but the Bengals felt he was ready enough to play significant snaps in this game.
Pittsburgh capitalized and torched Dennard for several big gains, and both of their first two touchdown drives saw Dennard give up catches of 44 and 53 yards respectively. This was a rough game for the third-year corner.
I mean...do I need to say more?
The NFL and its referees continue to show blatant bias against the Bengals, whether it was that horrific fumble/knee-down call or deciding not to suspend Aqib Talib for doing everything wrong on and off-the-field, but do suspend Vontaze Burfict for three games. (Side note: Just one more game until Burfict is back!)
Oh and this happened at least a dozen times today:
How many offensive holds did you count? https://t.co/FSqGvw50Ek— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) September 18, 2016
Keep being you NFL. No sense in acting like anything else.