Another year, another loss in Pittsburgh for the Cincinnati Bengals. This was one of the uglier losses in a rivalry that’s been highly contested, and while it was for the first half, the second half was total domination by the home team.
Here is a look at our winners and losers from Cincinnati’s Week 7 loss to the Steelers.
Wither Tyler Eifert now on IR and C.J. Uzomah looking like a liability more than an asset, Tyler Kroft is the de facto No. 1 tight end for the foreseeable future. He continues to impress in this role after catching a touchdown in Pittsburgh. It was the third time in three games that Kroft had reached the end zone after going nearly two years without scoring (Week 14 vs. 49ers in 2015). Kroft has a bright future ahead of him.
The Bengals have been relying more and more on rookie Ryan Glasgow as that second defensive tackle next to Geno Atkins, but Pat Sims made his presence felt in a big way in Pittsburgh. The veteran big man was a force in the middle and was leading the Bengals in tackles for much of the game (finished tied for team- lead with 8). In what was an ugly game on both sides of the ball, Sims was a nice bright spot that helped limit Le’Veon Bell to 3.8 yards per carry and the Steelers to 3.5 yards per carry.
A big reason why the Bengals usually struggle in Pittsburgh is the play of Andy Dalton. Even the Bengals’ wins at Heinz Field after been in spite of Dalton, who usually has some of his worst games here. That wasn’t the case on this day, as Dalton was sharp and did everything to keep the Bengals afloat while the defense was struggling mightily.
Yes, Dalton threw some picks, but they were deflections while trying to lead the Bengals back from multiple-score deficits. He also got no blocking from his offensive line in the second half, which continues to be the biggest group of losers on this team.
Ken Zampese Bill Lazor/Marvin Lewis
I have to place blame on both the head coach and offensive coordinator for the play-calling in this game. It looked like Ken Zampese was calling the shots again, though it wasn’t necessarily the plays called as much as who was tasked with executing them.
On what felt like at least once on every drive, the Bengals ran Jeremy Hill on 1st or 2nd down, which almost always led to a gain of 0-2 yards and made life a lot harder for Dalton and the passing game.
There were far too many 3rd-and-longs Cincinnati faced thanks to obvious run calls with the team’s worst back. Part of that is on Lazor for calling the play, but part of it is also on Lewis for continuing to let Hill have a big role in this offense.
The Bengals defense had been playing at an elite level, while the Steelers’ offense looked as bad as the Browns for much of this season. Somehow, they looked like world-beaters against the Bengals, shredding them on the ground and through the air with relative ease. Part of that was the Steelers executing at a high level, but there were way too many blown and missed plays by the Bengals. This was easily this unit’s worst performance of the year.
Dre Kirkpatrick had arguably his worst performance of the season in Pittsburgh, and it proved costly in a game that was very winnable. And Adam Jones being out is no excuse. Kirkpatrick has spent plenty of time covering Brown over the years, and he’s done well at it recently. However, Kirkpatrick was badly outplayed this time around, and it was a big reason why the defense never seemed to get off the field without allowing points.
The Bengals continue to waste downs on offense by giving Jeremy Hill the ball. To his credit, Hill showed he could be a productive NFL back in the past when he had a great offensive line, but he also looks horrific when the line isn’t as good, which is unfortunately the case this year. Hill can’t make plays on his own. He needs open lanes to get yards, so he’s a lost cause in this offense, but the Bengals continue to burn plays on him.
In this game alone, Mixon rushed seven times for 48 yards.
Hill rushed four times for seven yards.
The Offensive Line
Yeah, I think we’ve touched on them enough for one lifetime. They deserve to wear Terrible Towels for every game the rest of this season. They’re simply terrible, and Pittsburgh is their daddy.