Cincinnati showed up for its divisional clash against the Steelers, but a familiar storyline ensued. While the Bengals kept it close, penalties and other unforced errors led to an ultimate defeat.
We are witnessing what’s on pace to be the worst season in Bengals’ history, as the team fell to 0-11 on Sunday. Still, the effort was there this week, even though a “goose egg” resides in the win column.
Here are the best and worst individual performers by the Cincinnati Bengals in their 16-10 loss to the Steelers.
Second quarter Tyler Boyd: The veteran receiver spoke up about his lack of recent involvement in the offense and boy, did he back it up. Right around the two-minute warning of the first half, Ryan Finley floated a 50-50 ball to Boyd down the field 47-yard, one-handed catch.
One play later and targeting Boyd once again, Finley tossed up a wounded duck to the end zone and Boyd snagged it away from Joe Haden for his second touchdown catch of the season. Boyd did finish with 101 yards receiving and forced a big pass interference penalty to set up a field goal in the third quarter, as well.
Darqueze Dennard: With Dre Kirkpatrick out, Dennard has had to play a more significant role on defense. His duties haven’t changed much, as he is still primarily working out of the slot, but he was everywhere against Pittsburgh.
In the first half alone, Dennard had a pass defended in the end zone and a big hit on Mason Rudolph. He finished with five tackles to go with those two other nice plays.
Lou Anarumo: The rookie defensive coordinator wisely went after the many weaknesses of the Steelers’ offense. Maurkice Pouncey was out of the lineup and the interior of the defensive line took advantage, while the secondary limited any sort of big plays in the passing game—save for one, really.
Sacks, a red zone interception and crisp tackling were on display this week. This may have been one of the better overall performances by the Bengals in recent memory against the Steelers—particularly with the ineptitude of the team’s offense.
Yes, Pittsburgh was missing many weapons on offense and Anarumo made an egregious personnel error on the James Washington touchdown, but it was nice to witness the defense not getting pushed around, as has often been the case in this rivalry.
The safety tandem of Shawn Williams and Jessie Bates III: It’s been a tough year for both of these guys, but they came up with some solid plays on Sunday versus Pittsburgh. They were put in a bad position on the long bomb to James Washington, but Williams had an interception, while Bates had four solo tackles.
The defensive tackle duo of Josh Tupou and Andrew Billings: It’s been a year of progression from these two. Yes, their skill sets make their roles limited in the NFL, but their big bodies and ability to get into the backfield are effective tools in the rugged AFC North.
They combined for five tackles and a sack (by Billings), while also limiting the effectiveness of the vaunted Steelers’ rushing attack for three-plus quarters.
Carlos Dunlap: It was a monster game from the big guy. He’s been quiet this year, but he had a sack and a tipped pass that forced a Mason Rudolph interception. Dunlap was a constant presence, adding six total tackles to those two other big plays.
The former Buckeye offensive linemen: Coming into Sunday, former first-round pick, Billy Price, was benched, as was his rookie line-mate, Michael Jordan. Price was pressed into action with a pre-game injury to Alex Redmond, but wasn’t anything special, while Jordan was flagged for a hold on the only snap he played, as an extra lineman.
Bobby Hart: The offensive line had many struggles on Sunday, but most of them came from the right side. T.J. Watt had a sack and another tackle-for-loss while going up on Hart.
The only saving grace for No. 68 was when Watt briefly left with an injury to limit the embarrassment, although he had another patented false start in the fourth quarter.
Ryan Finley: Essentially, when Finley wasn’t throwing up prayers to Boyd, the passing offense absolutely sputtered. The offense failed on 10 of its first 12 third-down conversions, while the rookie also failed to crack the 200-yard passing mark for the third consecutive week. Finley also fumbled twice, losing one of them.
B.W. Webb: The free agent acquisition from this offseason is struggling. He has been forced to play in Kirkpatrick’s outside corner role and has been an Achilles’ Heel for Anarumo’s defense.
In the first half, Webb let up a 35-yard completion that led to a field goal, while also being responsible for Washington’s gigantic touchdown reception. In the fourth quarter, he let up 34 yards on two pass interference penalties (they were borderline), giving the Steelers life late in the game.
Zac Taylor: The effort level and other aspects of the team were impressive this week. However, the play-calling once again left a lot to be desired, as the team limped to a 16 percent third-down conversion rate, with just 10 points scored. This was under a quarterback known as “Taylor’s guy”, whom he switched to in the middle of the season.
In a much more depressing twist, Taylor’s Bengals have set a team record for futility in 2019. They are the first Bengals team since its 1968 inception to start a season 0-11, they have not scored more than 23 points all season and are averaging just 13.4 points per game in 2019.
Tyler Boyd in the three other quarters: Aside from the explosive second quarter, Boyd made some terrible mistakes to cripple the team. These came in crunch-time moments, too, as a third-down drop and lost fumble both occurred in the fourth quarter. If you’re going to publicly call to get the football, you can’t commit these kind of mistakes once it’s thrown your way.