Week in Review: Called Out: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

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October 21, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace (17) is tackled by Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict (55) at Paul Brown Stadium. Pittsburgh won the game 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE

Rey Maualuga

What can be said about Maualuga that hasn’t been said before? Let’s go through the list yet again. He is still over pursuing on running plays, still having trouble getting off of blocks, still atrocious in pass coverage on a running back or tight end, still very soft when it comes to tackling, still no push into the backfield.

I believe that sums it up for the most part. There is simply no middle linebacker in the league to date that is playing as poorly as Maualuga. If it were possible, benching Maualuga would benefit the defense drastically.

Playing rookie Vontaze Burfict in his natural position in the middle with Manny Lawson on the outside and a rotation of either Vincent Rey, Dan Skuta and Dontay Moch on the other side would be a far better combination than keeping the sloppy play of Maualuga on the field.

Vontaze Burfict

Speaking of Burfict, there was not another player on the Bengals sideline that had a better game than the rookie from Arizona State. Burfict was all over the field and made plays better than anyone else on the Bengals defense.

He excelled at wrapping up ball carriers in space and was vicious in the backfield. He finished with 15 total tackles, two of which were for a loss. This could easily be the future of Bengals linebackers here now.

Many Bengals fans were hesitant in the beginning with the signing of Burfict due to his issues in the past. It seems very clear now that he has overcome them and is playing some of the best football of his life.

The time should come very soon for Burfict to regain his natural spot as middle linebacker. When that happens, the Cincinnati defense will once again start to be relevant.


There were three key players in the secondary that actually had great games. Those players are Leon Hall, Chris Crocker and Reggie Nelson. Each of these Bengals did their jobs very well against the Steelers.

Hall was not challenged much on Sunday night as Ben Roethlisberger did not throw his way often. When he did, Hall was seen in great position and made two very crucial pass breakups.

Chris Crocker now has two interceptions on the season which leads the Bengals defense. He is still very much in command when he is on the field and is not seen out of position very often. He has been a pleasant surprise since he came back to the franchise one month ago.

Reggie Nelson did what Reggie Nelson always does. He worked deep to keep the speedy Steelers wide receivers from going over the top for big plays and when he was brought down to help in short-yardage or run support, he put some big time hits on ball carriers. Nelson is simply consistent with the way he plays which is something the Bengals need more of.

As for the rest of the secondary including Adam Jones and Terence Newman: when did they all get together and decide they did not feel like playing football on Sunday night? Steelers wide receivers were getting open with ease while these two were in coverage.

Newman and Jones were constantly being faked out by the smallest of jukes during a route leaving wide open receivers and very easy targets for Roethlisberger.

Bengals fans are clamoring for the debut of Dre Kirkpatrick because of the hideous play of these corners and could possibly be lucky enough to see him after the Bengals bye week has passed.

Marvin Lewis

Marvin, Marvin, Marvin… you get a big C’Mon Man! Some decisions that Lewis made on Sunday night were absolutely mind-numbing. Both of Lewis’ challenges may have been some of the worst during his tenure in Cincinnati, especially the challenge for a completed pass to Mike Wallace late in the third quarter.

Lewis simply can not afford to make that challenge unless he was 100% sure that he would have been correct. His ineptitude to make decent decisions on when to challenge a call has hurt the Bengals more times than anyone would like to count.

That last timeout that was wasted due to that poor excuse for a challenge would have served well for Cincinnati on Pittsburgh’s last drive of the game. Keep in mind that the Bengals were only down one score and could have used that precious time out to force the Steelers to run the ball and kill clock.

The Bengals certainly have lots of work to do this week during their bye. They need to draw up new game plans and figure out what has gone wrong. It is not every day that a football team wins three straight only to lose three consecutive games thereafter.

Hopefully, the Bengals coaching staff and players alike take long, hard looks into the mirror and ask themselves what can be done better to right the ship and get this team back on track for another shot at the playoffs.

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