As time passes and I am able to distance myself from the Bengals meltdown last night, there are a few things the disturb me about this game.
This team looked soft last night. The Steelers came out, hit us in the mouth (literally) and we had no answer. The defense was the worst I have seen it all season. There was no pressure on Ben Roethlisberger and no stops when needed. The special teams players forgot how to tackle and gave up a back breaking big play on a punt return. Wide receivers could not catch the ball and the offensive line gave Andy Dalton no time for plays to develop.
Josh touched on all these things in his recap.
Then there are a handful of reasons being thrown around why the Bengals lost that are nonsense. The refs did not cheat the Bengals. Were there missed calls? Probably. Are there missed calls in every NFL game? Yep.
Ed Hochuli does not hate the Bengals. He may love him some camera time, but there is no NFL official that is purposefully calling games to allow one team to beat another. There is too much at stake in the career of the officials for them to decide games based on who they want to win. Calling out a non PI call, or a questionable fair catch signal after a loss reeks of sour grapes. Those plays are not why the Bengals lost.
The loss of Kevin Huber did not affect the outcome of this game. Huber handed the Steelers their first touchdown (which in no way was a safety) before his jaw was broken. Also, if a flag was thrown on the pansy hit on Huber, do you really have any confidence that the Bengals defense would have been able to stop the Steelers? They didn't all night.
The Bengals lost this game because the Bengals sucked last night. Pinning the loss on one player is irresponsible. Pinning it on the refs is just dumb. The Bengals are dealing with injuries but so is most of the rest of the NFL.
Are the Steelers bigger and stronger than the Bengals? Nope. So why did it seem like they were throwing the guys in stripes all around the field? One team came to play physical football, one seemed to expect the other to roll over.
Personally I pin this loss on the coaching staff. There has to be a reason that the Bengals fail to perform in big games. How can they go from world beaters to pathetic when the audience of the game changes. It seems when the Bengals have the opportunity to shine, they play conservative. They play not to make mistakes and in turn play like crap.
You could argue that the o-line that was praised last week was the reason the Bengals lost. No pocket and no push in the run game. People clamored for the Bengals to hurry to the line on the 4th and 1 before Pittsburgh could challenge the previous play, but the way the line was playing, what would be your play call?
Ben Roethlisberger was clean for most of the night. The great defensive pressure the Bengals are known for was nonexistent. Ben didn't have to scramble because he had all day to throw. The Steelers running game was giving me nightmares of the "Bus" days. All in all it was a terrible night.
The Bengals will have at least 1 more national game this season. If they can figure out how to play in that game, they will have more. As of right now I don't have confidence in this team. As we turn the page to tomorrow, my confidence will be back. Denver and New England both lost yesterday so the Bengals just followed suit. I still don't care what the national media says and I still believe this is an incredibly talented team.