Amidst controversial finish, Bengals loss to Pittsburgh shows looming concerns

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Sep 18, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) greet each other postgame at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 24-16. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) greet each other postgame at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 24-16. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Bengals were burned by a bad replay on Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh. Rookie receiver Tyler Boyd’s knee appeared to be down, but upon review, a game-sealing fumble was upheld. Despite the controversy surrounding the late turnover, the Bengals loss at Heinz Field was a bit concerning.

It is no secret that rookie wide receiver Tyler Boyd‘s knee appeared to hit the ground prior to him losing control of the football. However, the call stood after review and the Bengals fell short to the Steelers, 24-16.

There is plenty of blame being spread to the officiating on that play and throughout the game. Countless holding calls were missed, and C.J. Uzomah appeared to have snagged his first career NFL touchdown in the third quarter, but no review took place.

Although a bad call may have taken away the Bengals’ bid to go tie the game on Sunday, the 58 minutes leading up to Boyd’s fumble were concerning for Cincinnati.

During a rain-soaked afternoon, the Bengals once again could not get a running game going. Giovani Bernard scampered 10 yards with 2:24 left in the game to convert a 3rd and one. It was the longest run of the day for Cincinnati.

Jeremy Hill, the NFL’s rushing touchdown leader since 2014, was held to 22 yards on 11 carries. In two games this season, Hill’s been held to just 2.6 yards per carry while the Bengals have been out rushed, 281-98.

Furthermore on offense, the Bengals couldn’t finish off drives. In their three trips to the red zone on Sunday, Cincinnati had to settle for three Mike Nugent field goals. Two defensive pass interference penalties set the Bengals up at the one-yard line in the third quarter, but Hill was dropped for a loss on first and goal, and two incompletions followed.

A.J. Green was a non factor for most of the game. Despite averaging 120 yards per game in his last four matchups with Pittsburgh, Green was held to just two receptions for 38 yards.

Quarterback Andy Dalton threw a career-high 54 times against Pittsburgh, tallying 366 yards for a second straight week. However, with Pittsburgh using two deep safeties to limit the deep ball, Dalton had to settle for short throws underneath the defense for the majority of the game. This led to Bernard hauling in a career-high nine passes for a team-best 100 yards and a 25-yard fourth quarter touchdown.

The steady downpour of precipitation didn’t help the Bengals’ offense. Dalton completed passes to nine different receivers, but overall Cincinnati dropped nine passes.

Defensively, it was a collective effort that was good enough for a victory. The Bengals intercepted Ben Roethlisberger twice, held DeAngelo Williams to under three yards per carry, and star wide out Antonio Brown caught just four passes for 39 yards.

The lone wrinkles in the Bengals’ defensive game plan were caused by unlikely Pittsburgh heroes. Wide receiver Sammie Coates caught just two passes, but the first went for 44 yards, the second went for 53. Both times Coates burned Darqueze Dennard, who was seeing his first action since Nov. 22nd of last year. Both of Coates’ big gains led to Pittsburgh touchdowns.

With Pittsburgh leading 17-9 in the fourth quarter, Williams came out of the backfield and burned the Bengals twice on a 68-yard scoring drive. On 2nd and 13 from the Pittsburgh 49, Williams caught a pass out of the backfield and sidestepped linebacker Karlos Dansby for a 20-yard pickup. Six plays later on 3rd and goal, a miscommunication between Adam Jones and Shawn Williams allowed the Steelers’ running back to trot uncovered into the end zone for a four-yard score.

The touchdown gave Pittsburgh a 15-point cushion with 6:48 left, a deficit Cincinnati could not recover from.

The Bad News 

The Bengals were outplayed in nearly all facets of the game on Sunday. The offense started five drives from inside their own 10-yard line and stuttered to tune of five three-and-outs.

More from Stripe Hype

It was another typical Bengals’ loss to Pittsburgh. Cincinnati kept it close, but a late turnover and missed opportunities led to another close defeat

The Good News

The Bengals were out rushed on the ground, 124-46, they had to settle for field goals on each of their three visits to the red zone. And despite the steady rain, they still had a chance to go tie the game in the final minutes.

It’s only week two, so there is still 15 weeks for the Bengals to right their wrongs.

Pittsburgh snapped Cincinnati’s seven-game September winning streak, but now the Bengals head home to Paul Brown Stadium.

The 2-0 Denver Broncos are on tap for week three. The Bengals have won four straight home openers and five of their last six.

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