The Bengals went to Pittsburgh in search of revenge. What they came away with were bruised egos and questions about the running game.
The Cincinnati Bengals went to Heinz Field in search of redemption. What they got was another loss. The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to edge out Cincinnati 24-16. Round one of the developing rivalry goes to the guys northeast of the Queen City.
After a week of nothing but compliments and uninspired rhetoric from both camps, the actual game started out as a comedy of errors and poor timing. Under the weeping skies of the Steel City, field conditions made things sloppy. Andy Dalton and Ben Roethlisberger both had problems handling the football. The wet field and pouring rain was a reminder of the January 9 AFC Wild Card game.
The final results were an eerie parallel to that game as well. On a fourth quarter drive, Dalton connected with Tyler Boyd for a six-yard gain. Boyd was tackled and the ball popped loose. Safety Robert Golden recovered, but Boyd’s knee was down. After officials teased the nation with a lengthy booth review, the call on the field was upheld. Game…set…match.
The first half play calling was suspect at best. Even though the rain caused slippery conditions, Ken Zampese stuck to his game plan. Once again, the Bengals running game seemed to be lost in the Twilight Zone. Maybe the plan was to help Dalton make up for the time he missed after fracturing his thumb. Whatever the problem was, it needs to be corrected before the next game.
There was absolutely no reason for Dalton to drop back over fifty times. The Ginger ended the day on 31-of-54 passing for 366 yards. On any other day, those would be numbers good enough to win. But, against a determined Steelers’ D, that’s not going to deliver a W.
No More Excuses
It truly gets old. Settling for the same old, tired reasons for a loss to the Steelers. There’s always something that gets overlooked or called (fumbles) the wrong way. Am I going Old School? Yes, I am. Would it be too much to ask for a Bengals-Steelers matchup that was well planned?
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Zampese is finding himself, as the Bengals new O-coordinator. But, that doesn’t mean continue the practices of the past. There were concerns about the running game, going into the AFC North slugfest. The fact that Dalton passed almost 60 times is not something to be proud of.
The Air Coryell offense may have been effective…but that was with Dan Fouts. Bengals faithful are waiting to see Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill take control. Another woeful performance saw the Bengals rush for 46 yards and 2.6 yards per carry.
It’s only Week 2. There’s no need to panic. But, a solid running game could ease a lot of worries.