QB: Ben played an absolutely wretched game from start to finish. Some say there comes a time when you need to cut your losses and throw the ball away. Ben has none of this malarkey and decides to hold onto the ball for more than 10 seconds if nobody gets open. As a result, Ben took 4 sacks on the game, 2 of which were his fault.
Our ever-so-accurate QB was completely opposite today. On 4 separate deep balls to Wallace, he missed him each and every time by at least 5-10 yards. Even the pass interference call speedy Mike drew was no where near him. He also missed a wide open Holmes in the EZ late in the 2nd and threw an ugly short pass that went behind Hines to start the 3Q that bounced off a pursuing defenders hand and into Rucker's arms. This resulted as a huge momentum changer to open the half and another Cincy FG.
Strange we didn't see the cameras panning out to Ben rallying the troops on the sidelines at any point during the game. Instead, we see him starring in space with the look of defeat on his face halfway through the 3rd quarter.
WRs: Overall a mediocre game for the receiving core. Tone led the way with 7 receptions for 88 yards, often beating his man throughout the game until he began to draw double coverage. Past Tone, there isn't much to say. Ward is having difficulty getting open even after Ben is buying him 6-7 seconds a snap, which is why I believe Arians' is using these bitch WR screens that usually result in punts. Wallace dropped a catchable ball on a curl in the 2nd and only finished with a single catch for 16 yards, though he did draw a 50-yard, ticky-tack pass interference call where the ball was clearly overthrown. Both Ward and Wallace need to find a way to get open quicker, especially against better defenses. Ben is clearly not going to have enough time to wait for Wallace to run downfield with the same caliber rush he was facing today.
TE: Miller, similar to Ward, had 4 grabs for 26, including a nice run-after-catch for 11 yards in the 2nd quarter. He had a high pass on 3rd and 3 go right through his hands which should have been caught. Miller was also whistled for a hold in pass protection. Spaeth, who shouldn't be in the game at all, had a single catch for 1 yard in which he fumbled and luckily covered.
RBs: Mendenhall was one of the lone bright spots of our offense despite being held to 36 yards on 13 carries. Why only 13 carries? I have no idea. We were playing score for score and was down only by 3 points for a majority of the 2nd half, yet we completely abandon the run. Mendy is running with authority every time he touches the football and is almost always gaining positive yardage. Even on one play where he's met in the backfield, he ends up making a move to get to the LoS. I believe Mendy can be every bit as good as a Jones-Drew if he just gets enough touches. Maybe Rashard needs to start complaining to the coaches like MJD earlier this season? Well nevermind, that would probably send him back to the dog house.
Moore had a good grab under tight coverage on a dump off late in the 2Q, which is surprising considering he's become non-existant in the passing game as of late. For as much as the Bengals were blitzing, you would think that Moore would be a frequent target. From the FB spot, Moore also ran a quick hitter on 3d and 1 for 12 yards.
Parker had a single, albeit tough, carry for 7.
OL: A very inopportune time to have their worst game of the season. Our line was absolutely abused by the Bengal front 7. In fact, this game wasn't that different to the Eagles debacle last year, when our pathetic line was unable to adjust to the overload blitzes for the entire game. Kemoeatu, who continues to struggle in pass protection, was beaten badly as we were driving inside the Bengal 11 on a first down which resulted in another field goal in the 4th quarter. Slow-footed Starks, the recently dubbed 'all pro lineman,' struggled as well. The game ending play was absolutely disheartening as Roethlisberger was met immediately with pressure up the middle as Hartwig completely disregards his man and Starks just gives up.
DL: Collectively, the defensive line played well and held their gaps. Benson, Leonard and Scott were held to 69 yards rushing. Hampton was in on 3 tackles, each of which resulted in a very short run. Keisel, similar to the past handful of games, played very well getting in on a Harrison sack and had a batted down ball on 3d & 6 in the 3rd that forced another Cincy field goal. Eason played a strong game spelling the injured Kirshke, coming up w/ a critical stop on a Palmer scramble for only 3 yards and stuffing Bengal backup RB Scott on the next play for a 2 yard loss on a 3rd and 3, which gave us the ball back with 2 minutes left. Hood teamed up with Troy for a 3 yard loss on Benson in the 1st Q.
LBs: A real drop from previous games. Lack of intensity all around from the normally exceptional cast. Harrison had his worst game since the Tennessee meeting last season, finishing the game with a Woodley-esque 1 solo tackle and 2 assists. Other than his lone sack, he was unable to get any kind of pressure on Palmer. He also drew an inexcusable unnecessary roughness penalty on the Bengals final drive. Woodley had a very up and down day. He had a nice stop on the Bengal 3rd-string RB Scott for a loss of 4 in the 2nd quarter and a sack on Carson Choke-o in the 3rd for a loss of 11. Later in the 3rd quarter, Woodley was caught in perfect position to tackle Scott on a desperation dumpoff, but was caught completely flatfooted and like a stiff buffoon, let him run around him for a huge 21 yard gain. On the Bengals final drive, he was completely run over at the LoS on a Benson 5 yard gain that allowed them to move the sticks. Timmons was caught offsides on 3d and 8 with 2:06 remaining in the game, which gave the Bengals' offense a much better chance at both the 1st down and the ensuing FG. Farrior, the 'winged-god of LB coverage,' struggled once again against the Bengals. He missed a routine tackle of Benson in the 1Q, which allowed an 8 yard gain in the first. Running the SAME ROUTE that got 11 yards on the fateful 4th and 10 in our first meeting, Leonard ran a basic out, and Farrior was once again far too slow to meet him. This time, Farrior couldn’t even cut Leonard off at the pass, as he was able to run down the sideline for 17 yards before being pushed out of bounds by Clark.
DBs: Surprisingly a solid game for our DBs, which almost made up for our horrid LBing play. Palmer was held to only 178 yards on 30 pass attempts, 18 of which were completed. Stinko, as usual, was held in check with 30 yards. Only problem is without Troy, who tweaked his knee early on, this group is unable of creating turnovers. Out of 3 should-be INTs, Clark perhaps had the best chance in the 2nd quarter, but the ball just seemed to bounce right off his gloves.
STs: Logan had a nice return for 25 in the 2nd setting us up in Bengal territory that, of course, resulted in a disappointing FG. He also made a solid solo tackle in coverage one one of our kickoffs. On the bad side, Logan clumsily bobbled a kickoff in our own endzone and then decides to take liberty and return it all the way to our own 15. Later in the game, as the Bengals were forced to punt from the back of their own endzone, our return ace decides to fair catch the ball with only a single defender in front of him a good 10 yards between them. Not to be outdone, Moore nearly fumbles a FC inside our own 10. Interesting that Tomlin gave Wallace a shot at kickoffs...
Hooker Reed made the bitch play of the week not once, but twice this season. After scoring on our opening drive, he directionally boots the football towards the sideline probably 10 yards away from the endzone. Literally a pisspoor kick. To top things off, as our coverage routinely runs out of their lanes, Reed completely runs past Bengal backup-RB/returner Bernard Scott on what would be a sure tackle. He doesn't even attempt to slow him, running right in front of him. Funny how tough and menacing Reed is when he’s under the influence, fighting the cops and battling paper-towel dispensers. Maybe he needs to carry a Joose before he decides to boot it away next time.
Sepulveda took a note from bitch-Berger last week, shanking one for 33 yards at 11:19 all the way to the Cincy 47 in the 3rd quarter. He did, however, boom 2 50+ yarders and have 3 out of 5 punts land inside the Cincy 15.
The KO coverage was trash the entire game. At this point, I have no clue when Tomlin isn’t ordering squib kicks on or simply kicking the ball out of bounds. What's the point when each and every return manages to get past the 35 with one going to the house every game?
Coverage Units: F
DC: Dick called a good game defensively. Half of the Bengals' scores were caused by Ben and Jeff Reed and the kickoff coverage alone. They held Palmer in check throughout the game but did bend a little in the 4th quarter, allowing a 50 yard, 9 play and a 54 yard, 11 play drive.
OC: Arians has got to go. The playcalling today was painful to watch
HC: I haven't seen the press conference yet, but I certainly hope Tomlin is livid. Chances are, probably not. I'm sure he's sitting there right now with a smug look on his face trying best to avoid answering why we couldn't get the ball into the endzone. You know, the 'we didn't execute' or 'we got work to do' excuse. Typical bullshit. With the offense sputtering all day, why not get the playcalling out of Bruces' hands? Where was the no huddle? Seriously, it's time to man up and make coaching moves or start taking the blame for these losses yourself.
Coach T. also made a blunder (luckily it resulted in no points) on the Bengal's first drive where he was very slow to challenge Palmer 'completion' on a 3rd and 9, as Coles clearly did not have two feet in bounds after the catch. Learning from this, Carson immediately ran to the line to run his next play. Something our offense fails to do continually on 'close plays.' On our next offensive drive, Marvin Lewis completely one -ups Tomlin on how to challenge a play, throwing his red flag almost instantaneously, which overturns a Holmes' first down catch. This set of events was eerily similar to Cowher schooling Lewis on how to ice a kicker, only in reverse, especially after seeing Lewis smirking on the sideline as he threw the flag.
For a guy that emphasizes the importance of special teams, and performing well in all three phases, the coaching was just embarrassing. I'm not sure of what the record is for kick returns allowed for a touchdown in a season, but I'm sure we're on pace to break it. And this time it wasn't against a returner like Joshua Cribbs or a Percy Harvin...try Bernard Scott? To top things off, there was no intensity on the sideline, no go-for-the-kill mentality, or no do-or-die approach during the entire game. Not even in crunch time. By looking at everyone's lackadaisical demeanor on the sideline, it looked like a scrimmage. Not a fight for the division.