Steelers Today - A Pittsburgh Steelers blog


Steelers lose to Bengals……..again.

November 15, 2009 By: Admin Category: Post-Game Reports

The last time the Cincinnati Bengals won the AFC North was in 2005.  That’s the same season that the Steelers went on to win Super Bowl XL.

That is recent proof that all is not lost following the Steelers 18-12 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.  However, that doesn’t change the fact that the Steelers made things much more difficult for themselves by losing for a second time to the Bengals.

The Bengals now hold an almost insurmountable advantage in the division race.  It would take a miracle for the Steelers to wrestle the division crown from the Bengals grasp.  So if the Steelers are going to repeat as Super Bowl champs, it is going to have to be as a wild card team.

The Steelers defense looked impressive in the loss.  They held the Bengals to only 61 yards rushing.  They also held Carson Palmer to only 178 yards passing, while sacking him twice.  They didn’t allow a single touchdown to the Bengals’ offense, and stopped them 3 times in the red zone.  We really can’t ask them to do much more than that.

Unfortunately, the Steelers offense and special teams didn’t uphold their end of the deal.  The Steelers special teams allowed the only touchdown of the game.  Kicker Jeff Reed was within a few feet of Bengals return man Bernard Scott, and could have tackled him early in his run.  Unfortunately Reed didn’t even make an attempt to stop him.  He didn’t dive for his feet.  He didn’t stick out his leg to trip him.  He didn’t even reach out an arm to try to touch him.  He just let him coast by for a touchdown.

I know that Jeff Reed is a kicker, but can someone remind him that he’s also a football player.  And a professional football player at that.  He has to learn how to tackle. 

The Steelers offense didn’t do much better.  They didn’t generate a single touchdown despite being in the red zone 4 times. 

Part of the problem seemed to be the play calling.  The Steelers attempted 40 passes while only giving the ball to their running backs 16 times (Big Ben also ran the ball twice).  That’s more than a 2-1 ratio of passes to running plays.

The heavy emphasis on the passing game might have been okay if Roethlisberger was playing well.  But he wasn’t.  Big Ben completed only 50% of his passes, was sacked 4 times, and ended the game with a 51.5 quarterback rating.

Another incomplete pass

Another incomplete pass

Did the Steelers forget that Rashard Mendenhall had rushed for 155 yards last week?  Did they not notice that Willie Parker averaged 7 yards per carry during the game, and that Mewelde Moore averaged 10.5 yards per carry?  Obviously they didn’t.  I think Big Ben and Bruce Arians grew too infatuated with the incomplete pass.

As if to add insult to injury (or should I say “add injury to insult”?), safety Troy Polamalu left the game due to an injury to his knee.  No prognosis was available, but Mike Tomlin said that Polamalu would undergo an MRI.  Hopefully, it’s nothing serious, and Troy won’t be out for an extended period of time.  We all saw what happened last time Polamalu was out of the Steelers lineup.

Fortunately for the Steelers, their next game is against the pathetic Kansas City Chiefs.  That may be just the tune-up that the team needs before traveling to Baltimore for their first of two remaining meetings with the Ravens.

Sunday’s loss means that the Steelers now have an uphill battle on the stairway to seven.  Next stop, Kansas City.


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12 Comments to “Steelers lose to Bengals……..again.”

  1. How do we go from being lousy on coverage teams 2 years ago to one of the best last year then back to one of the worst again this year? That is unacceptable!
    But, it was Ben’s poor performance that was most disappointing. He was terrible on that day. Please tell me why instead of running a two minute drill at the end of the game, he’s throwing Hail Mary’s? (Which by the way he has proven that he cannot over throw Wallce on a Go route!) Why aren’t we running the offense? That was a concession that was equal to an “Oh, what the hell?” Unacceptable and unprofessional. Was that really the best that Ben & Arians could come up with?
    I’ve been arguing that Ben is ‘right up there’ with the best QBs in the NFL but the contrast of the Steelers game with the Sunday night game was a striking ‘counter point’ to any point that I was trying to make!
    Buckle the chin strap! Going to be a battle for the Wildcard!

  2. John #21,
    I am with you on this one. I just don’t understand how they could have been so good on special teams last year, and then go back to being terrible this year. Allowing teams to take kickoffs and punts all the way to the house is too costly. We can’t afford to do that. Yet, I believe the Steelers lead the NFL in allowing teams to return kickoffs and punts for TDs. The team has even started talking about letting James Harrison play on special teams again. We can’t afford to have Harrison get hurt playing special teams.

  3. hello guys,

    i just want to say i agree with you donald!!!! i just wish you could have agreed with me several weeks ago when i was trying to point out our offense problems that others, for some reason, were not seeing.

    I hold tomlin responsible for the play calling. he doesn’t have to allow bruce to keep dialing up the pass when the run game could have and was working when they tried it.

    john 21,

    i feel the same way man! i am afraid that ben might not need to be in the discussion of top 2 or 3 qbs just yet. close. but not yet. we do have to let him have a bad day or two but games like this kinda sets him back a few steps.

    again, i wish to make the point i have been criticized for since the start of the season. we look good against poor defenses, in fact, we look like monsters at times. but there is never a “groove” when playing the tougher teams.

    I point to the titans and vince young. i live in nashville and the city is falling in the trap that it is vince young’s return that has turned the team around. NO! they have played very poor teams. Collins could have easily won those games as well. vince and tn fans will see soon enough that it has been all a dream.

    No, i am not comparing vince to ben LOL. O lord, please! LOL ……im still laughing…

  4. Maybe I’m just the eternal optimist but I’m not ready to crawl out on the ledge quite yet. “Yes” they lost and “yes” the offense had a bad game and “yes” the playoff situation would have been MUCH better had they won…but it isn’t the end of the world for the Steelers.

    The offense played poorly against the Bengals but it is still much better than last year’s. The defense isn’t quite as good as last year but I am not worried as long as Troy is able to play. The special teams are mixed with an improved punter and a worse kickoff coverage unit. So, there are some concerns but nothing to panic over.

    The Bengals have tough games against Minnesota, San Diego, and maybe the Jets (Heck, they might get overconfident and lay an egg against Oakland - the Eagles did). Pittsburgh has tough games against the Ravens (twice) and perhaps against Green Bay and Miami. Overall, I am not ready to concede the division or start worrying about the wildcard. I have no doubt (barring a string of injuries) that Pittsburgh will make the playoffs and I think there is still a fair chance they win the division (i.e. 30-40%).

    Currently I see the Steelers losing one more game and the Bengals losing two. That leaves them tied and the Bengals win the tiebreaker. However, they play the games for a reason and an upset somewhere along the line could put Pittsburgh back in the driver’s seat.

  5. john,

    you ARE an eternal optimist

  6. Guys:
    I guess we should ‘let it go’ except it’s not just the Bengal game. Tony has some great points. I don’t think anyone would call our offense a ‘rhythm offense.’ We do not have that West coast groove. We are certainly not ‘smash mouth.’ So what is our identity. We hear the talk about being balanced and taking what the defense gives you-therein lies the problem. I am all for exploiting the weakness of the defense (ie ‘pass to set up the run’ etc.) But once you do that and the adjustments on both sides begin…who are you? Are you the Offense that seizes the moment and dictates to the Defense? That’s what we are missing. What is our bread n butter? Our true identity? Remember when we were the best trapping team; the best screening team? Certain plays we ran every week. (Wouldn’t it have been nice to see a screen or draw last Sunday?!) Time for the schizophrenia to stop. Let’s have an Offensive game plan that we stick to!

  7. John #21,
    Perhaps Bruce Arians thinks that by not having an identity, he is making the Steelers defense “less predictable”. Do you think the Bengals predicted that the Steelers would keep passing the ball even though the passing game wasn’t working? See, unpredictable. ;-)

  8. John,
    I agree with Tony. You ARE an optimist.

    But in reality, the Steelers have a very good shot at making the playoffs as a wildcard team. But winning the division is going to be exceedingly difficult. Not impossible, but difficult.

  9. John #21,

    I agree and disagree. On our identity, obviously we are in transition. For years, Pittsburgh has been a run first team (except for that 2 year period of ‘tommy ball’). We have not had a QB as talented as Ben, however, for a few decades. To take advantage of those skills, we are becoming more pass oriented. What is our identity now? Who knows. What was our identity last year? Screw around for 58 minutes and hope Ben pulls our a#@ out of the fire during the last 2 minutes? That’s not much of an identity but it did win a Superbowl.

    I am not all that concerned about a consistent offensive identity. I don’t think the Steelers have to be a running team. I DO think they have to be ABLE to run the ball and not give up too easily on the run game.

    Good teams can and should come up with varrying game plans depending on the opponent. For example, when we play the Ravens I hope the game plan calls for us to be pass happy as their pass defense is much worse than their run defense. This was the same for Cincinatti - given their defense, I had no problem with the Steelers initial pass-happy game plan. I think the real problem was the complete lack of any adjustments during the game.

    Whatever the reason (Bengal Defense or just a bad day from Ben), the pass game wasn’t working. The run game wasn’t much better. While they only ran the ball 10 times in the second half, they only averaged about 2 yards per carry. Both the run and pass games were pretty poor in the second half. Was that due to the Bengal’s defense or the inability to make adjustments by the Steeler’s? I currently blame the Steeler’s because of the mindboggling decision to NOT go no-huddle and the “go for it all” mentaility during the last drive.

    So, I don’t think the problem is the inability to stick to a game plan but a failure to make the necesary adjustments during a game.

  10. Don,

    How about this for optimism. The Steelers will win out, win the division, and the Colts will lose 3 of their remaining games giving Pittsburgh the #1 Seed!!!

    OK, I don’t really believe that…but you have to be able to DREAM!

  11. guys,

    you are right, it may not be the inability to stick to a game plan. It may be the inability to create one.

    Every time I watch the Colts (for years) they look the same. They have an idenity. I like Tomlin, he is growing on me. But I will also say that I do miss the idenity cowher embraced.

    One more thing. Special teams is more like special needs! Reed is obviouly not a football player. Heck go for the feet, trip him, or throw your helmet, something!Maybe Tomlin needs to give hima six pack before each game where he will have some confrontation in him.

    I want to see our guys come out sunday against KC and beat the brakes off them. I want to see them mad! I want to see them play 60 minutes of scary football. Show urgency, show passion. They CAN do it.


  12. John,
    I agree. I am also not one who believes that we need to have an identity. The best thing is to be able to do whatever is necessary to win. If we can run the ball AND throw the ball, we are doubly dangerous. I don’t think we need to be overly reliant on one or the other. We need to be able to do both.


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