Well that’s a relief. For a while, it looked like the Bengals might be in for another disappointing performance against the hated Pittsburgh Steelers. And then Joe Burrow Joe Burrowed his way out of three-point halftime deficit by leading the offense to a 20-3 run that put the team up by two touchdowns, before a meaningless Najee Harris score with under a minute left.
While it wasn’t all smooth sailing, the Bengals will take it. So what did we learn?
Samaje Perine can catch
Okay, obviously. But it seems the team just remembered how valuable the backup running back can be in the pass game. It wasn’t even a year ago when he scored the Bengals’ first touchdown in the AFC Championship game with about 40 yards of work after the catch.
Against the Steelers, the gritty, hard-nosed Perine scored three touchdowns on just four targets. With Ja’Marr Chase and Joe Mixon (mostly) out and a pass rush that made life difficult for Burrow yet again, the veteran running back provided just the punch the team needed.
Joe Burrow gets it
The Ohio native totally understands how important this rivalry is. He treated the contest like an elimination game, fighting and clawing his way back in the second half, going to underrated receivers in the redzone, and letting off some steam after Cincinnati took control for good.
Chidobe Awuzie is the biggest injury of the season
D.J. Reader is back. Chase should be back soon. But Awuzie, the team’s only shutdown corner is gone until next year, and it really hurts. Kenny Pickett had his best game yet throwing deep, connecting with George Pickens for 22, 24, and 33 yards. He also completed a 31 yard pass to Gunner Olszewski. Unless something changes quickly, those corners are going to look a whole lot worse against the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills.