Well, what can you say about that one? There wasn’t much positive to write home about in one of the Bengals’ worst overall performances in years.
Here are the winners and losers from the Bengals in their 27-3 loss to the Steelers on Monday Night Football.
Joe Mixon: The team’s bell cow back struggled to find room, but he made the most out of opportunities. Mixon had 62 yards on 15 carries for a 4.1 average. He also had four catches, but the poor blocking only had him net a yard through the air.
Andy Dalton: Dalton hit some nice passes early in the contest, but the pressure has definitely gotten to him. He has shown “happy feet” at times, while some throws were behind players. As the game wore on and got out of control, Dalton was doing everything he could to avoid pressure and get rid of the ball—even if it resulted in high-risk throws.
Unfortunately, the incredibly poor line play has resulted in the creation of bad habits for the nine-year veteran. And, really, shame on the Bengals organization for fielding that putrid offensive line in front of a quarterback they’ve openly said they would build around in the Taylor regime. We feel for you, Andy.
Andre Smith: The Bengals’ countdown to the return of Cordy Glenn achingly continues. Smith is not a left tackle, nor is he a viable starting NFL option at this point in his career. Bud Dupree dominated Smith, which included a sack to force a fumble of Andy Dalton. And, late in the third quarter, Mixon took a handoff and had a defender immediately dive at his ankles in the backfield, as he “ole’d” Smith on the play.
Bobby Hart: The veteran right tackle was one of the team’s prized free agent gets this offseason (at least by their standards), but he has not improved the way they had hoped. He gave up a sack, numerous pressures and had an illegal use of hands penalty in the first half alone. Hart also had a false start towards the end of the game.
Michael Jordan: A couple of times, we saw some things that made us want to put Trey Hopkins on this list as well, but on those occasions where No. 66 seemed to let up a sack, it was more because he was attempting to bail out Jordan. The rookie guard struggled mightily against the Steelers’ interior linemen—particularly Cam Heyward, who had 1.5 sacks—prompting us to wonder why Billy Price didn’t get the nod this week after an admirable performance against the Bills. Jordan also had a false start.
Zac Taylor: There are about 56,000 things to point to when it comes to Taylor as a loser in this one. The offense was, for a lack of better words, a clown show. They couldn’t block anyone, as evidenced by their allowance of eight sacks in the game, while also showing that they are even further away from competing against the Pittsburgh’s of the league, much less the Patriots or Chiefs.
The biggest indictment, though, was the lack of urgency in a game that could have salvaged the season. Cincinnati was completely overmatched and out-coached in every facet, which is saying something considering they played an 0-3 team with a backup quarterback.
Nick Vigil: The veteran linebacker had a couple of “wow plays” in the form of a forced fumble and two tackles-for-loss, but this is one of those “go watch the rest of the film” type of things. Vigil was constantly out of position and/or missed tackles, particularly on Steelers drives in the second and third quarters that netted 10 critical points.
Lou Anarumo: We get that it was a simple 10-3 game at the half, but there is a bounty of issues from the defensive unit. First and foremost is the regression of some very important players. Shawn Williams, Jessie Bates III (though he did have a fumble recovery) William Jackson III and others have seemingly taken major steps back.
The next issue to bring up is is tackling. As is a yearly tradition against the Steelers, the Bengals slid off of Pittsburgh’s offensive players as if they had lathered up with grease and the home team made them pay for it. Finally, what was with Sam Hubbard (arguably their best pass-rusher this year) dropping into deep zone coverage on multiple occasions?
The fans: You deserve better. Another embarrassing primetime loss against their hated foes—this example just shows that they have seemingly taken steps back from the Marvin Lewis era. It’s going to be a long season and there are minimal signs of it getting better in the immediate future.