In a result that surprised absolutely no one, the Bengals fell to the Steelers last night 27-10. Cincinnati actually took the lead early, going up 7-0 on a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass to WR Glenn Holt, who was filling in for the suspended Chad Johnson, and were down just 3 at the half. But once again, the Bengals couldn’t get anything going on the ground — Cedric Benson had a measly 35 yards on 16 carries — and so couldn’t sustain drives. The offense held the ball for less than 25 minutes, and the defense predictably wore down in the second half. The D was also plagued by fresh injuries, as both starting defensive ends, Frostee Rucker (already a fill-in for the injured Antwan Odom) and Robert Geathers were lost to knee injuries.

There were some bright spots in the loss, most notably the performance of the makeshift offensive line. Despite the presence of a rookie left tackle and a journeyman left guard, the line gave up just one sack, though that also had a lot to do with Fitzpatrick’s haste in getting rid of the ball. He was under heavy pressure all night. Obviously, the reworked line didn’t do any better than the prior version at opening holes for the running backs.

The Bengals also saw good things from rookie wideout Andre Caldwell, who had three catches for 26 yards, and safety Chris Crocker, who blew up Santonio Holmes in very un-Bengal-like fashion.

At the postgame press conference, head coach Marvin Lewis attempted to clarify his comments to nfl.com’s Thomas George, claiming that he was not referring to management when he told George that:

"It’s not a shock to say that we have to make some changes for the future for me to remain here."

Said Lewis,

"Well, yeah. We need to change how we’re getting things done. Playing. I’m not talking about anything other than that. I didn’t mean anything other than that context. We need to make sure that we continue to develop our guys and do a good job of coaching and playing. The frustration is me. (The reporter) is talking about me. Change is me too."

Lewis further claimed that he has not thought about “not coming back next year,” despite what he told George. So…whatever, coach. Like C. Trent said, maybe Lewis will make more sense today.

As for the latest installment in the Ocho Imbroglio, last night’s benching of Chad for walking out of a team meeting, Doc says, too little, too late. The Chickster thinks that it’s the end of the line for Chad in Cincy. Maybe, but Mike Brown wouldn’t trade him for one guaranteed first and one conditional pick that could become a first last April, and after the poor season he’s had, I doubt anyone will be willing to offer even that much for Ocho Cinco. So I expect we will all get to re-live 2008’s offseason I-want-a-trade-you-signed-a-contract follies.