Bengals win over Steelers shows progress needed to end rebuild – Cincinnati Bengals blog
PITTSBURGH – Sounds outside the visitors’ locker rooms echoed through the tunnels of Heinz Field.
Slaps on the back and cheers from Cincinnati Bengals players, coaches and other staff were the sounds of a team celebrating some type of victory. Sunday’s road game against the Pittsburgh Steelers – a team struggling with significant injuries and a declining quarterback – was going to be the first major benchmark against which to assess the Bengals’ position at this point in their rebuilding process.
The resounding 24-10 victory, perhaps the most complete performance of coach Zac Taylor’s three seasons, shows the Bengals they can be competitive in the AFC North. Cincinnati produced the type of performance that could resonate for the rest of the season and prove crucial in December.
âWe expect to be on the road, to win division games, to achieve everything that we talk about internally as a team,â Taylor said after the game. “It is something that is necessary.”
It was not the first time the Bengals (2-1) beat the Steelers (1-2) under Taylor’s tenure. Cincinnati surprised a Pittsburgh team in the playoffs during Monday Night Football last December.
But the team’s second consecutive victory over rivals AFC North was far more important. Last year’s victory came from quarterback Joe Burrow already sidelined for the season with a knee injury and playoff prospects extinguished.
Taylor said that had he been able to set the schedule, a Week 3 road game against a division opponent would have been his preference. A victory over Pittsburgh on a cloudless day in September showed why.
Prior to Sunday, the Bengals had not won any divisional wins in Taylor’s first two seasons except in December. Cincinnati linebacker Logan Wilson, who recorded a record 14 tackles and two interceptions, said the win at Heinz Field was a continuation of what the team accomplished in 2020 and would give the team a boost. at the start of the season.
âWe just have to believe we can beat the Pittsburgh Steelers,â Wilson said. âIt’s a historically formidable organization. So anytime you can get a win against them that’s huge. “
Cincinnati showed much needed determination on Sunday. Taylor’s call came under fire after a lackluster loss to Chicago last week. But the Bengals responded by averaging 6.4 yards per game and asserting their authority over the game despite 35 fewer snaps than the Steelers. Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin summed it up best when asked about the Steelers, who were missing passer TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith, breaking their NFL record by not registering a sack for the first time in 76 games.
âThey controlled the game,â said Tomlin. “I mean, what are we even talking about? “
Burrow overcame an early interception to throw three touchdown passes, including two to rookie Ja’Marr Chase. In Burrow’s lone game against Pittsburgh last season, Cincinnati was largely outnumbered in a 36-10 loss.
That game and two big losses to the Baltimore Ravens showed the ground the Bengals needed to catch up with other teams in their division.
And especially after last week’s loss to the Bears, Burrow said the team are aware of what is required in Pittsburgh.
âWe knew we had to come here and play like we did,â Burrow said.
Taylor said the most meaningful part of winning was being able to complete a road victory. In early 2020, the Bengals lost a fourth-quarter lead to tie the Philadelphia Eagles at Philly.
That didn’t happen against Pittsburgh. Instead, Cincinnati produced the kind of performance that could lead the team to play meaningful games in December.
âIt’s something we needed,â Taylor said. “But this is just a small step in our journey for the rest of the season.”