3 big surprises from Cincinnati Bengals’ Week 3 win over Steelers

Eric Bruns
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1) catches a pass as Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Tre Norwood (21) defends in the fourth quarter during a Week 3 NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.Cincinnati Bengals At Pittsburgh Steelers Sept 26
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1) catches a pass as Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Tre Norwood (21) defends in the fourth quarter during a Week 3 NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.Cincinnati Bengals At Pittsburgh Steelers Sept 26 /

The Cincinnati Bengals vs Pittsburgh Steelers is a bitter rivalry that the Steelers have owned in recent years, as Big Ben was 24-8 against Cincy prior to Sunday. In Week 3, however, the Bengals played a near-perfect game to beat their hated rival. The Steelers were banged up, but many Bengals fans know, these are the games this team typically struggles with and usually loses.

An even more impressive feat is the Bengals won in Pittsburgh. Beating the Steelers is hard enough, but winning in Pittsburgh is especially tough (and Cincy hadn’t done so since 2015). The Bengals made the Steelers look like a far cry from the team who came back to beat the red hot Bills in Week 1.

Here are some of the biggest surprises from the Bengals victory over the Steelers.

Cincinnati Bengals O-Line Allowed Zero Sacks

Coming into this game the Bengals’ offensive line was on pace to allow an NFL season record 76.5 sacks eclipsing the 76 sacks allowed by the Houston Texans in their 2005 season. This also snapped a 75 game streak of at least one sack per game for the Steelers.

Yes, T.J. Watt was out with a groin injury, but the Steelers have plenty of talent on their defense to get to the quarterback. This becomes even more surprising and impressive when you realize Jackson Carman got his first start as a rookie. Due to an injury to Xavier Su’a-Filo, Carman was called to start and he did not disappoint.

During preseason things weren’t looking great for Carman until the final game when he looked good against the Dolphins. Therefore, when it was announced that Carman would get the start, it’s understandable that Bengals fans would be worried. He would be getting his first start at Guard, in Pittsburgh, after struggling to switch positions from tackle in college to guard in the NFL.

As PFF highlighted above, Carman’s stats are impressive and encouraging. Again, yes, the Steelers were not 100%, but, Zac Taylor still has to consider that Carman should stay the starter of Su’a-Filo especially if the veteran isn’t 100% on a short week. The struggling Jaguars could be a game for Carman to grow his confidence.

Offense Clicked Early

Due to pressure on Joe Burrow, and conservative play-calling from Taylor, the Bengals’ offense have struggled to get going early in their first two games of the season. They were not setting the world on fire against the Steelers but they looked much better.

Burrow had time to throw, leading to three touchdowns and only four incompletions on the day with one of Burrow’s incompletions being an interception. The pick came midway through the first quarter on a high throw. However, Burrow shook that off and went on to have a good day going 14-of-18 for 172 yards and three scores through the air.

With Burrow having time to throw, and the defense stifling the Steelers’ offense, Burrow did not have to throw 30-40 times in order to play catch up. This also allowed Joe Mixon to run and take time off the clock and pressure off Burrow. Mixon gained 90 yards in the win.

The most interesting thing about this Bengals victory is that Burrow was under 200 yards passing, Mixon was under 100 yards rushing, and Ja’Marr Chase was the leading receiver with 65 yards — Yet, the offense put up 24 points. This tells me they had great field position all game, also, helping the offense to click and gain confidence early.

Chase is showing why the Bengals drafted him. He has all 30+yard touchdowns for the Bengals this season.

Incredible. It’s clear Chase has a bright future in Cincinnati.

Defense Held the Steelers to 10 Points

Maybe Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t 100% and was dealing with a pectoral issue. Nevertheless, you can never count him out when he plays. Big Ben is always capable of those great games especially with rookie, Najee Harris playing great and putting up 142 yards total. The Steelers also have Chase Claypool and JuJu Smith-Schuster who can make big plays.

The new and improved Bengals D completely stifled the Steelers’ offense making them look almost inept. Cincy sacked Big Ben four times and picked him off twice. He looked uncomfortable most of the game struggling to get anything going.

Those two interceptions came from Logan Wilson and fans were hoping he was going to take the leap to become a defensive leader, which is what he is doing. He has 12 total tackles on the season and three interceptions. He could have a great game against the Jaguars, who, at times, look lost.

The Bengals’ free agent signings and trade acquisitions have made a huge impact, as B.J. Hill and Trey Hendrickson both have been looking great all season. In addition, rookie Cam Sample had a great game and got a sack on Sunday in his second start.

As I said before, with this great defense performance, getting the Steelers off the field allows the Bengals to start drives with great field position. A domino effect all beginning with the defense.

Next. 3 Key Observations from Joe Burrow. dark

What was the biggest surprise for you on Sunday?