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1 winner and 5 losers from Bengals’ no-show at Pittsburgh

Tough day.

With their season essentially on the line, the Cincinnati Bengals traveled to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. They left with a gut-wrenching 34-11 loss in one of the worst performances we’ve seen in the Zac Taylor era.

Let’s take a look at the winners and losers of today’s contest.

Winners:

Tee Higgins: In a day without not many bright spots, Higgins was just that. With Ja’Marr Chase out, Higgins was asked to answer the bell as the primary receiver. As he did last season, Higgins answered. He scored the first points of the game for the Bengals on an 80-yard touchdown reception, which was the longest of his career. The play set the Bengals up to cut the lead to 16 following a two-point conversion. Higgins finished the day with five receptions for 140 yards and a touchdown. As free agency looms this off-season, Higgins is getting hot to close out the season.

Losers:

Jake Browning: After three straight wins behind Browning, his colors as a backup showed today. Despite finishing with 28 completions for 335 yards and a touchdown, Browning made critical mistakes that let the game get out of hand. After Pittsburgh scored to go up 7-0, the Bengals drove into the red zone with a chance to answer. On a third-down play, Browning threw an ill-advised interception in the end zone. With no Bengal receivers in the area, it appeared Browning was trying to throw the ball away. The fall never found its way out of the end zone, coming down in the arms of Patrick Peterson. Browning threw two other interceptions on the day as well.

Lou Anarumo: The Bengals' defense has been ranked near the bottom of the NFL all season. Despite that, Anarumo’s defense found a way to come up with clutch stops and turnovers in the red zone this season to keep the Bengals in the game. That wasn’t the case today. Against a third-string quarterback, Anarumo’s unit gave us 284 passing yards, 113 rushing yards, and 34 points in a game with their backs against the wall.

Chidobe Awuzie: It has been a tough season for Awuzie, who has been coming back from an ACL tear. With Cam Taylor-Britt out, Awuzie has been playing more snaps. He has looked like a player who was forced to spend his last season rehabbing. After Higgins’ 80-yard touchdown, it appeared the Bengals may have been building some momentum. On the following drive, Awuzie was flat-out beaten on a go route by Pittsburgh’s George Pickens for a 66-yard touchdown that effectively ended any comeback hopes.

Frank Pollack: It wasn’t a great day from the Bengals’s offensive line. When as many players struggle as we saw today, you have to wonder if there was something off with the scheme for the week. With an up-and-down season from the offensive line, Pollack still appears to have some things to figure out.

The Running Game: Throughout the three-game win streak, the Bengals' running game helped the offense remain balanced. Tonight, much like the first meeting with the Steelers, it just never got going. The team finished with 16 rushing attempts for just 59 yards and no touchdowns. Pittsburgh was again able to take advantage of a one-dimensional offense.