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4 winners and 5 losers from Bengals vs. Steelers

The Steelers’ enigmatic offense came alive vs. the fading Bengals.

It was raining and overcast as a Joe Burrow-less Cincinnati Bengals hosted Kenny Pickett and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 12, and the game went about how I figured it would. It was ugly, with a lot of punting, a few turnovers, and not a lot of scoring.

In the end, the Bengals lost by a score of 16-10 in what was an ugly, gut-punch of a game. The Bengals fall to 5-6 and are very much on the outside looking in when it comes to the wildcard.

Here are a few winners and losers in the game.

Winners

Jake Browning

The guy was making his first NFL start against one of the better NFL defenses in a divisional game, and he didn’t blink. Was it always pretty? No. Did he win the game? Also, no.

But he went out there against one of the NFL’s premier defenses without one of his primary weapons and no running game and kept the game interesting late into the fourth quarter. That’s about all we can ask, I think.

Browning finished 19/27 passing for 227 yards, a touchdown, and an interception for a passer rating of 96.2.

Drew Sample

Hey, Sample scored again! Who had a Browning to Sample touchdown against the Steelers on their 2023 NFL Bingo card?

The two former Washington Huskies hooking up for the early TD was easily the offense’s best highlight today.

Ja’Marr Chase

Chase is amazing, we all know that, but he really showed up on Sunday. He led the Bengals in targets, receptions, and yards. It may seem to be a down game, but when a receiver can bail you out, not once, but twice, like this.... well, he’s a winner in my book.

Myles Murphy

This was arguably Myles Murphy’s best game as a pro thus far, as he finished the game with a sack, a QB hit, and a tackle for loss while notching several more pressures.

Murphy’s development needs to be one of the Bengals’ top priorities for the remainder of the season.

Losers

Lou Anarumo

The Steelers haven’t had a 400-yard game since Week 2 of the 2020 season coming into their game in Paycor Stadium against the Bengals on Sunday. They finished the game with 4total yards. Anarumo was able to limit the Steelers to only 16 points, but the struggling Steelers offense was able to extend drives and do enough to win the game. When the Bengals needed a stop the most, they couldn’t get it done.

In the end, Anarumo’s defense let one of the worst offenses in the league march up and down the field, even if it didn’t show much on the scoreboard.

Bengals ability to cover the tight end

Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth absolutely ate the Bengals defense alive all afternoon long. He finished the game with nine catches and 120 yards. The Steelers didn’t hide it at all. Pickett was looking Freiermuth’s way when the Steelers needed a first down. The Bengals seemed powerless to stop it.

Fans of explosive offense

If you tuned in hoping to watch touchdown passes and high-scoring offenses, you obviously left unsatisfied. Neither team could get anything going on offense throughout the majority of the game, and both offenses struggled to sustain any drives. Everyone knew a Burrow-less Bengals offense would be ugly, and it’s clear that Matt Canada wasn’t the only issue with the Steelers offense.

Yuck.

Joe Mixon

I figured that, with Burrow out, Joe Mixon would be the new focal point of the offense. That turned out not to be the case. Mixon only carried the ball five times in the first half and eight times in the game. It wasn’t like the Bengals went with another running back. They just opted not to run. I’m not sure if they don’t have confidence in Mixon or in their line’s ability to run block, but whatever the reason, they decided to not put the ball in Mixon’s hands, at least not as a rusher.

Do they really believe in Jake Browning, or do they not believe in Mixon and the run game?

The offense’s ability to get it done when it matters the most

Third down and three, down six, with plenty of time left in the third quarter. This was the biggest third down of the game for Browning and the Bengals offense. The Bengals lined up with Sample on the right hip of right tackle Jonah Williams, hoping to help with All-Pro pass rusher TJ Watt.

Watt somehow went completely unblocked, Browning was sacked, the Bengals punted, and in the end, they lost. The offense hasn’t been able to get it done in big moments all season long.

Hopefully next year, that will change.

Who was your biggest winner/loser today? Let us know in the comments section!