Steelers vs. Bengals: Live Grades and Analysis for Cincinnati

Sean ODonnellContributor IIISeptember 16, 2013

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 16:  Running back Giovani Bernard #25 of the Cincinnati Bengals dives into the endzone for a seven-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium on September 16, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In what was a must-win game for both teams, the Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) prevailed and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2) by a score of 20-10 on Monday Night Football.

After a very shaky start to the game, the Bengals were able to right the ship with some key second-half adjustments that set the tone for the rest of the game. Cincinnati was the more physical team on Monday night. The Bengals look like early favorites to win the AFC North in 2013.

The Bengals will take on the Green Bay Packers (1-1) next week in Cincinnati.



Pittsburgh Steelers: 10

Cincinnati Bengals: 20


Game Analysis for the Cincinnati Bengals

Pass Offense: After finally establishing the run, the Bengals utilized a short, high-percentage passing attack. The adjustment was successful. Cincinnati drove down the field and scored its second touchdown of the game on a catch and run from Giovani Bernard. Andy Dalton remained stable throughout the remainder of the game.

Run Offense: A solid running game helped the Bengals establish an aerial attack in the second half. Both BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Bernard were able to get tough yards on the ground against a stingy Pittsburgh offense. Cincinnati totaled 127 yards rushing as a team.

Pass Defense: The Bengals secondary did not allow much separation to the Steelers' wide receivers and made it difficult for Ben Roethlisberger to find passing windows. The Bengals defense also clamped down on the wide receiver screens that hurt them in the first half. Reggie Nelson intercepted Roethlisberger late in the fourth quarter to essentially seal the win for Cincinnati.

Run Defense: The Bengals were stout in the trenches in the second half and yards on the ground remained tough to come by for the Steelers. No matter who was in the backfield, the Bengals prevailed, holding the Steelers to a team average of just 2.8 yards per carry and a total of just 44 yards rushing.

Special Teams: Mike Nugent hit his second field goal of the game with eight minutes left in the game, putting the Bengals up by 10. The coverage units were better in the second half. By remaining disciplined and staying in their lanes, they did not allow any more big returns to occur.

Coaching: Some nice halftime adjustments were made on the offensive side of the ball, which turned into points immediately for the Bengals. The short passing game along with the urgency to establish the run really got Dalton and the offense back on track. Penalties still remained a problem and must be ironed out going forward.


First-Half Analysis for the Cincinnati Bengals

Pass Offense: Andy Dalton missed some throws early and did not seem to be in his best form on the first two drives. He gained composure and connected with Tyler Eifert for a 61-yard gain on the Bengals’ next one. However, Dalton did struggle throughout the majority of the first half, completing just 16 of 32 passes.

Run Offense: Rookie running back Giovani Bernard capped off the Bengals’ first scoring drive with a seven-yard touchdown run. Both running backs were very effective over the first half, as BenJarvus Green-Ellis averaged 4.9 yards per carry.

Pass Defense: Domata Peko and Carlos Dunlap got to Ben Roethlisberger early for the Bengals’ first sack of the season. After giving up a big play to tight end David Paulson, Adam Jones stripped the ball on a heads-up play to give the Bengals possession. The secondary remained tight in coverage for the most part, making completions hard to come by for the Steelers.

Run Defense: The Steelers began the game with three straight runs and immediately went three-and-out. Cincinnati had an above-average showing against the run throughout the first half, as Felix Jones averaged 3.7 yards per carry.

Special Teams: The Bengals showed poor coverage on the first kickoff and punt of the game, as the Steelers returners gained 34 and 40 yards, respectively. Kevin Huber had a fantastic punt later on, downing the Steelers at their own 3-yard line.

Coaching: Penalties and unforced errors were still a problem for Cincinnati. Turnovers have not been an issue, but four penalties for a total of 44 yards is not a good start after struggling with the same issues in Week 1 against the Chicago Bears.

Offensive play-calling was very unbalanced, as the Bengals were very pass-heavy despite their success on the ground. Two-minute drill at the end of the half was poorly managed and did not come away with points.