Bengals vs Steelers: 5 takeaways from Week 1 loss

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals
Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

After a long wait for the 2022 season, the Cincinnati Bengals got a nice slice of humble pie in their Week 1 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Let’s just get this out of the way – The Bengals didn’t play well and deserved to lose this game but the Steelers didn’t deserve to win either. It felt like one of those games that should have ended in a tie. 

Burrow had five turnovers, which gave the Steelers a chance to run up the score early on and that’s exactly what they did. The defense did everything they could to keep this game within reach but at the end of the day, Cincinnati blew it and Burrow was a big reason for why the team lost. It was an ugly loss. 

Let’s stick with Burrow as we kick off our first takeaways post of the regular season. 

Game stats courtesy of

Bad performance from Burrow

This was the worst game we’d seen from Joe Burrow during his time in a Bengals uniform, as the Comeback Player of the Year from a season ago threw three picks in the first half and lost a fumble. He also added another interception in the second half, giving him four on the day and five total turnovers. It’s hard to win a game when the quarterback turns the ball over FIVE times.  

Burrow looked lost throughout the early portion of the game and the interceptions he threw were mind-boggling. I know I’m not out on the field making those throws but Burrow was throwing to guys who were in double coverage while other players were wide open. It was very unlike the Bengals franchise quarterback and it put the team in a hole. 

Had those turnovers not taken place (or even just if a few of them were removed), the team wouldn’t have had to go through all of that trouble in overtime. It’d probably have been a pretty comfortable win. Burrow is a stud and he’ll bounce back from his bad performance in this one, but it’s hard not to be frustrated with this showing. He did not look like the guy we watched steamroll teams in the postseason. 

New-look OL not much better

I was excited to see the new-look Bengals offensive line in action but boy was it an ugly day at the office for that group. Burrow was sacked a whopping six times and was constantly under duress. 

Considering the Bengals’ front office spent a lot of money on this group, it was concerning seeing Burrow running for his life so much in the game. At the same time, however, it’s only Week 1 and this unit didn’t get to gel much during the preseason and training camp. They will get better (or, I guess I should say they hopefully will get better). 

Dominant defense

This game wasn’t a complete disaster after Burrow gave the ball away four times because the defense was on point. The pass-rush didn’t get after Mitch Trubisky as much as fans would have liked to have seen but they held the Steelers’ run game to under 80 yards (Chase Claypool actually led the team in rushing yards) and only surrendered 18 passes altogether. 

On a day where the offense couldn’t get things figured out early on, the defense did their part in making things a close game. That’s all you can ask from them. 

The TD that wasn’t

With the game winding down, Burrow hit Ja’Marr Chase down the field for what was a considerable gain. The ball was placed on the 1-yard line but upon further review, Chase had the ball across the plain and it should have been a touchdown and six points for the Bengals. An extra point would have given them the lead. 

For whatever reason, the offense rushed into their 1st-and-goal play, which resulted in Joe Mixon getting stuffed. Why Zac Taylor didn’t pick up on that catch going for what should have been a score is baffling but what followed was the stripes getting stopped at the goal line on fourth-and-goal. 

Hug a long snapper

Never has a long snapper’s role seemed so important as it did when Clark Harris had to miss the end of the game. That led to Mitchell Wilcox having to snap the ball on field goals, which meant that Evan McPherson’s extra-point attempt to win the game in regulation was blocked, and later, he missed his chance at trying to win the game in overtime due to a bad snap. 

Harris has always been beloved in Cincinnati but fans love him even more after seeing how bad the special teams looked without him. 

This game was a tough pill to swallow but the good news is that it's only Week 1 and the Bengals somehow nearly won this game despite Burrow throwing four picks and losing a fumble. The stripes had no business being in this battle but they were in position to win it on multiple occasions. Had Harris not gotten injured, McPherson likely drills the game-winning extra-point at the end of regulation and the good guys are 1-0 right now.

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Unfortunately, football doesn't always go your way. The Bengals are 0-1 but they have 16 games left to prove that they belong in the AFC. Pick your heads up, fans. It'll get better.