It won’t surprise anybody to learn that Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was not impressed with his team’s performance during tonight’s embarrassing loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, a game that could have clinched for the team their first division title since 2017.
It started off with the offense turning the ball over three times in the first half, including two fumbles, one on a botched quarterback-center exchange, and then a silly interception from Ben Roethlisberger, who was nearly picked off a couple of other times as well
“Just not good enough for us. The performance speaks for itself”, Tomlin said in his opening remarks during his post-game press conference, noting that the early turnovers put them in an uphill battle. Even though they outscored the Bengals in the second half, they still lost by 10.
“I thought they had a good plan”, he said in crediting Zac Taylor’s outfit. “You’ve got to tip your cap to them, particularly with some of the quarterback designed runs that were able to keep up off-balance and minimize some of the things that we were able to do on possession downs. I want to give them credit”.
The Bengals did play a good game, admittedly, given their limitations. Ryan Finley certainly did not wow as a quarterback, but they got enough out of him to win the game, and they were able to use him on quarterback keepers with success several times, including a late gut-punch touchdown run.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do”, Tomlin said in stating the obvious. “We’re not a good football group right now. We understand the consequences that come with that. We’re working on a short week. We’ve got to be better than what we’ve been, and that’s just the reality of it”.
Steelers players talked about a sense of relief of finally having a full week to prepare, and how that might make a difference in their performance, but you wouldn’t know it by tonight. While each of the Bengals’ first-half scores came on short-field turnovers, the defense allowed them to get into the end zone twice, rather than holding them to field goals or less.
And the offense? Well, it was certainly a first half to forget, but is there anything to take away from the second half? They did put up 17 points across five meaningful drives. On a fourth drive, they were in field goal range but attempted to convert on fourth down and failed.
Needless to say, the fans will be livid after this one and nothing short of a couple of playoff wins will get many of them to walk down from the ledge. Everybody can see that this is a 11-3 team that is not playing like an 11-3 team. They are playing like a team that has lost three games in a row. They can turn things around—but will they?