Brad's Blog - 09/17/13
My keys to the game before Monday Night Football were pretty simple, and the Bengals made me look like I knew what I was talking about. Instead of expanding the playbook like they normally do for the Steelers matchup, they simplified it. Do what we do best and do it over and over again.
1. Run, Gio run!: Giovani Bernard is one of the three best offensive players they have. They were determined to keep him on the field to make something happen. He carried it 8 times averaging nearly 5 yards per carry. He scored his first NFL TD on a 7 yard run. He scored his 2nd NFL TD on a simple dump pass out of the backfield then scampering 27 yards. Bengals ran it 34 times for 127 yards (Green-Ellis 22-75). Tyler Eifert is the third best player (AJ is a given), and the #1 pick made 3 catches for 66 yards-- 61 of them set up Gio's first TD. Tight ends caught 9 balls for 132 yards. That's a difference maker.
2. Throw it to me, Ben!: The goal was to make Ben throw because the running game would be rendered ineffective. Steelers only ran it 16 times for 44 yards, with a long of 14. Pretty stout defense. That made Ben throw it 37 times, completing only 20 for 251 yards. That's an average of less than 7 yards per catch. He was sacked twice and picked off once by Reggie Nelson.
3. No gifts for you!: The Bengals forced two turnovers and provided no gifts for the Steelers. Andy Dalton provided the gift of missed opportunities as he repeatedly overthrew receivers in the first half going 16-32, but no interceptions. Still, the Bengals had way too many penalties (9-84 to the Steelers 3-29), but I would submit it wasn't the most consistently officiated game.
The Bengals were supposed to win. They did. Do what you do well and repeat. It's a good formula. They have the potential to get a lot better.
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 16: A view of the line of scrimmage of the Cincinnati Bengals game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium on September 16, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)