Bengals 18, Steelers 12: How Bout That Pens / Bruins Game?

As if this game wasn’t frustrating enough, we can now brace ourselves for an aftermath of writers and commentators saying that Cincinnati’s record and their double-sweep of the Steelers and Ravens proves unequivocally that the Bengals are, in fact, the best team in the AFC North. Sure, their defense has played a lot better the last two weeks than I ever gave them credit for, and maybe it’s just my day-after bitterness talking, but does anyone honestly think that the Steelers wouldn’t beat this team in a head-to-head playoff game, even on the road? Provided Polamalu’s leg hasn’t been amputated by then, of course.

That being said, the Steelers simply did nothing to deserve this game. The defense played well but didn’t create any turnovers, and the offense, while not completely horrible, also didn’t make any big plays, couldn’t convert third downs, couldn’t do anything in the red zone, and just generally earned that stupid-looking “12” on the scoreboard at game’s end.

Before I go into details of the Steelers’ ineptitude and make us all angry again, let’s rewatch Bill Guerin’s game-tying goal against Boston:

Woooooo!!!!! LET’S GO PENS!!! LET’S GO PENS!!!

What was I talking about? I forget. Probably not anything terrible that ruined my Sunday, I imagine. Yayyy hockeyyyyyy!!!

Guh…alright…some random Bengals thoughts after the jump:

— If Limas Sweed drops that same pass that Santonio Holmes missed in the end zone, Steelers fans rush the field immediately and tear him to shreds. And probably punch Tomlin for ever allowing him on the field, too.

Roethlisberger played possibly his worst game of the season, finishing 20 for 40 with an INT, no TDs, 4 sacks, and just 174 total yards; he missed Heath Miller and Hines Ward on a number of short safety-valve type passes, every deep ball was either inaccurate or accurately thrown into plenty of coverage, and roughly 98,000 passed were deflected at the line. Wait, lemmie double-check that number…yep, exactly 98,000. Crazy.

— Speaking of Hines Ward, though, he was a total nonfactor once again (4 catches, 24 yards) in a weirdly schizophrenic season for him. If he keeps getting shut down, they better start getting Mike Wallace to smile more, blindside D-backs and run more short-outs so Roethlisberger has some idea where to throw on third down.

— I know it’s the number one easy “Day After” critique, but the Steelers probably should’ve tried to run the ball a little more in the second half. Mendenhall ran for a mediocre 36 yards on 13 carries but never got much of a shot against the second-half Bengals D, Mwelde Moore had 2 carries for 12 and 9 yards each, and Willie Parker came in and gained 7 yards on one carry before re-entering the Witness Protection program. I’m not flatly against Roethlisberger throwing 40 times if it’s working, but yesterday it clearly didn’t.

— It’s also borderline “easy coach critique,” but would Arians have been out of line attempting a gimmick play in the second half? Reverse? Flea-flicker? Throwing more than three yards to someone who isn’t Santonio Holmes?

— Someone in the Heinz Field crowd had a “Cincinnati Bengals Suck” sign spelling out C-B-S. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a network acrostic-sign fit better; they’re usually super-tortured attempts like, “Eason and Steelers Punchyou Now!!!!”

— It kinda goes without saying, but I think we can all agree that the Steelers aren’t going anywhere without Troy Polamalu. It’s painful how evident this is any time he’s out of the lineup or not 100%

— I’m back to expecting every Steeler kickoff and punt to be returned for a touchdown, and I’m legitimately surprised when they aren’t. The distrust in Steeler special teams such a familiar, comfortable feeling to have — it really makes me feel at home (In a home where I swear at the tv a lot.

— During Football Night In America, Bob Costas made the point (as many others have) that “if it wasn’t for one freak play in Week 1 against Denver, The Bengals would be 8-1.” This is not true, and not a legitimate argument anyone can make, particularly about the NFL where games very frequently come down to a play or two. Granted the Denver thing was exceptionally ridiculous, but…

1) If chubbo white fullback hadn’t fallen forward for like 12 yards on 4th down, the Steelers would’ve beaten the Bengals in Cincinnati, and…

2) You can’t just assume every other Bengals game would have turned out the same if the team had won the Denver game. It’s a false hypothetical that can’t be applied to any team.

Hell, if the Steelers hadn’t gotten a weird deflection interception off Brett Favre and taken it for a TD, they probably would’ve lost to Minnesota. If Reed hadn’t missed two field goals, they would’ve beaten Chicago. Every team has games decided by a freak play or two — the Bengals don’t get special treatment just because the play against them was wackier.

— Chiefs next week. Eagerly anticipating Tomlin’s “We have to respect — who do they have? — I don’t know, Dwayne Bowe’s good, right?” speech.

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