Brett Keisel and James Harrison combine for a sack of Andy Dalton
The Steelers absolutely waxed the Bengals in Week 13, to the tune of a 35-7 rout. The loss marked Cincinnati’s most lopsided defeat of the NFL season, and Pittsburgh sent a message that the young Bengals have a ways to go before they can compete with the cream of the AFC crop.
The Bengals looked like a young team on Sunday. They committed 10 penalties for 109 yards, lost a fumble, threw an interception and could not tackle a docile cat, let alone Rashard Mendenhall.
Everyone deserves some of the blame for the drubbing the Bengals took against Pittsburgh. This was a total team loss.
If you looked at social networking sites during or after the game between the Bengals and the Steelers, you would the think the refs lined up and caught passes from Ben Roethlisberger or blitzed Andy Dalton.
Most of the acrimony surrounded around two calls, an A.J. Green false start that negated a touchdown and a block in the back that went uncalled on a punt return and led to a Pittsburgh score.
The Green penalty was harmless; the team gained no advantage by his flinch. Harmless or not, the official has to blow the whistle on that play. I am sure if a Steelers wide receiver made the same movement on a touchdown pass and the penalty went uncalled, Bengals fans would cry foul.
The block in the back was a missed call, plain and simple. These types of missed calls that happen in the blink of an eye are commonplace in the sport.
While that one missed call influenced the score and momentum, it was one play. If the Bengals are going to take the next step and become an upper-echelon team, they must overcome situations where calls do not go their way.
If anyone out there is pounding their fists and blaming the officials for the Bengals loss, their anger is misplaced.
The officiating crew cannot be blamed for having as many catches as Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell. The Pittsburgh defensive backs blanketed them, and Simpson and Caldwell were not up to the task of creating separation. It is their fault they disappeared, not the referees.
The referees are also not the reason the Bengals went 2-of-11 on third down. All the credit for Cincinnati’s third-down woes goes to the Pittsburgh Steelers defense, which played with dominant intentions in Week 13. Every third down was not an opportunity for the Cincinnati offense to keep a drive alive, but a chance for James Harrison, Brett Keisel and the Steelers defense to tee off on an overwhelmed Bengals offensive line.
The Steelers wide receivers were prolific against the Bengals for the second time this season. The refs cannot be blamed for that. Antonio Brown had only two catches Sunday, but they were for huge gains. Mike Wallace had three receptions for two touchdowns, and Hines Ward made catches that kept drives alive. The officials were not responsible for defending Pittsburgh’s receivers, Kelly Jennings and Adam Jones were. They failed.
The Bengals abysmal special teams play cannot be pinned on the officials, either. You cannot blame the zebras for Brandon Tate looking lost all afternoon or fumbling on a kickoff. No official was assigned to block Cameron Heyward on a field-goal attempt in the first quarter. It isn’t their fault he blocked it.
Bengals fans should be angry, but angry at the right people.
Be angry with a defense that could not stop a nosebleed.
Be angry with an offensive line that was bulldozed all afternoon.
Be angry with a special teams unit that played like it was training camp.
Do not be angry with the officials; it is a waste of time and energy. The Bengals did not lose to the guys wearing black and white in Week 13—they lost to the guys wearing black and yellow.