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Snap count takeaways from Bengals’ shocking win over Steelers

The Bengals showed reason to celebrate and trends to follow moving forward after their huge upset.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Well that certainly wasn’t expected.

The Bengals came out on Monday Night Football against the Steelers and simply looked and played like the better team. Perhaps the biggest reason for the upset was the energy that the home team played with last night, but there are some underlying stories to be told via the snap counts to help illuminate a possible formula to success.

Snap count takeaways from the Bengals upset over the Steelers:

  • Pittsburgh did out snap Cincinnati 65 to 56, and one of the biggest reasons for how that happened during a game where the Bengals seemed to dominate mostly on the scoreboard is simple. It comes down to the defense doing a great job of giving the offense a short field get points on the board early.
  • One thing that is really surprising is how the Bengals offense performed without so many key pieces. They went into the game without players like Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon and Jonah Williams, but they also lost Tyler Boyd (11) very early in the game to a concussion. For as much as Zac Taylor has earned criticism in these posts in prior weeks, he deserves all the credit for getting this offense to do anything on the day.
  • The Bengals offensive line may also be coming together in the middle. Quinton Spain, Trey Hopkins and Xavier Su’a-Filo all played the entire game inside. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it ended up being one of the units better outings, and it is possible they have found something to build on for next season when Williams returns with whatever bunch of competition they bring in for the offensive line.
  • Giovani Bernard (38) playing a majority of the game helped the offense a lot. After inexplicably getting benched for the first half last week after his first fumble in over 800 carries, Bernard found the end zone twice in the first half. He looked like the Bernard we saw during his rookie season when he was a huge part of Cincinnati’s last home victory against Pittsburgh, which was also on MNF. It’s funny how your team plays better when you play your playmakers actually play.
  • Everyone has been talking about Jessie Bates III all year, and Vonn Bell’s hit last night is getting all the headlines, but one of the biggest reasons for this upset was Cincinnati going back to Darius Phillips (65) as their full-time boundary corner back opposite William Jackson III. The entire secondary played extremely well, which includes Mackenzie Alexander, but Phillips helped solidify a spot that had been getting exposed with LeShaun Sims struggling for most of 2020.
  • The defensive line looked like a unit possessed. It was easily their best performance of the season. Carl Lawson and Sam Hubbard were obviously the stars of the show, but a stable rotation of Mike Daniels (26), Christian Covington (28), Xavier Williams (23), and Margus Hunt (38) was able to keep that unit fresh and playing at a high level late into the game. Also, Hunt deserves special recognition as the leader of the inside unit in snaps. His return has been nothing but good for this team, and we should see plenty of him now that Geno Atkins has been placed on injured reserve.

Bengals snaps from their win over Steelers

POS. NAME Snaps Percentage of snaps
POS. NAME Snaps Percentage of snaps
WR Tyler Boyd 11 20
WR Mike Thomas 1 2
WR Alex Erickson 28 50
WR A.J. Green 51 91
WR Tee Higgins 56 100
WR Stanley Morgan 3 5
OT Fred Johnson 56 100
OT Bobby Hart 56 100
OG Keaton Sutherland DNP DNP
OG Michael Jordan -- --
OT Hakeem Adeniji -- --
OG Alex Redmond DNP DNP
OG Quinton Spain 56 100
OG Xavier Su'a-Filo 56 100
C Trey Hopkins 56 100
C B.J. Finney DNP DNP
C Billy Price -- --
TE Mason Schrek 1 2
TE Drew Sample 51 91
TE Cethan Carter 21 38
QB Brandon Allen DNP DNP
QB Ryan Finley 56 100
QB Kevin Hogan -- --
RB Samaje Perine 12 21
RB Giovani Bernard 38 68
RB Trayveon Williams 7 12
DE Kahlil Mckenzie -- --
DE Khalid Kareem 8 12
DE Sam Hubbard 57 88
DE Margus Hunt 38 58
DT Mike Daniels 26 40
DE Carl Lawson 57 88
DE Amani Bledsoe 20 31
DT Xavier Williams 23 35
DT Christian Covington 28 43
LB Logan Wilson DNP DNP
LB Germaine Pratt 45 69
LB Josh Bynes 43 66
LB Jordan Evans 11 17
LB Markus Bailey 9 14
LB Akeem Davis-Gaither 17 26
CB Mackensie Alexnder 61 94
CB LeShaun Sims -- --
CB William Jackson 65 100
CB Jalen Davis -- --
CB Darius Phillips 65 100
S Shawn Williams 3 5
S Vonn Bell 65 100
S Jessie Bates III 65 100
S Brandon Wilson 9 14
S Trayveon Henderson -- --