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Fans in the Queen City have known for quite some time that the 2013 edition of the Cincinnati Bengals is very much like the squads of the last three or more years in that the team will go as far as the defense can carry the load.
In Week 15, the defense let the team down.
Part of the issue was the unit being placed in horrible scenarios, such as a goal-line stand early in the game after a special teams gaffe.
But the majority of the blame goes on defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. The unit inexplicably stopped blitzing consistently as ESPN's Coley Harvey details:
Not only that, Zimmer once again pulled a dumbfounding move he has attempted a few times this season, by only rushing two players against Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the second quarter.
The result? A 12-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown, which put the Bengals in a 14-0 hole.
It makes no sense to drop defensive tackles into coverage on any play, but especially not against Roethlisberger, who is known for picking apart secondaries when given time.
Zimmer also simply failed to adapt. Pittsburgh came out with a no-huddle, get-the-ball-out-fast approach to counter the Cincinnati pass rush. The Bengals simply never countered with an answer.