Cincinnati Bengals: An ugly win is still a good win


Bernard of the Cincinnati Bengals

“They were just the better team tonight.”
Those were the words of Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin after his team had dropped a 20-10 decision to the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football. The loss dropped the Steelers to 0-2 and evened the Cincinnati record at 1-1 as the Bengals picked up what could only be termed as a must win, though be it just week two of the season.
For the Bengals, the win was not anywhere near a classic work of art, in fact it was downright ugly at times. But in the ugly AFC North, an ugly win is a good win any day.
“It was a good football game for us to win tonight. It was hard-fought, very physical each quarter, and very close all the way through,” Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis told the media after the game.
The game was also a coming-out party for the Bengals’ two top draft choices in 2013. Tight end Tyler Eifert caught a big 61 yard pass from quarterback Andy Dalton in the first half and again combined with Jermaine Gresham to give the team a one-two punch from the tight end position. Perhaps the biggest story of the night though was second round draft pick Giovani Bernard, who scored both Cincinnati touchdowns, the first two of his NFL career.
In the first half, Bernard scored on a seven-yard run up the middle and then broke a 10 all tie in the third quarter when he grabbed a short Dalton pass and then used his speed to motor untouched into the end zone from 27 yards away. As Bengals radio announcer Dan Hoard so aptly put it, “He drives a mini-van but runs like a Maserati.”
Bernard knew the importance of the win and not dropping to 0-2, where the playoff odds reduce drastically.
“The biggest thing is that we came out here and won, especially after the loss last week,” said the rookie running back to the media after Monday night’s contest. “We really wanted to get this win, and we got it.”
“We came prepared. We wanted this win. We knew we needed it and we wanted it , especially against a rival like the Steelers.”
The Bengals also battered the Steelers with a one-two punch at running back with the speedy Bernard giving way in the second half to the bruising BenJarvus Green Ellis, who finished the night with 22 carries for 75 yards, as the Bengals totaled over 400 yards of offense and held possession for more than 35 minutes of the game.
Again, the Bengal defense came up big, battering a depleted Pittsburgh offense and coming up with crucial big plays. First, it was cornerback Adam Jones stripping the ball and recovering it from Pittsburgh tight end David Paulsen at the Bengals’ 13-yard line. Then in the game’s final minutes, safety Reggie Nelson was in the right spot when a Ben Roethlisberger pass bounced off the hands of receiver Jericho Cotchery. Nelson’s interception sealed the deal in the Cincinnati 20-10 victory.
The defensive line sacked Roethlisberger just twice but kept constant pressure on the Pittsburgh signal-caller and managed to shut down the Steeler passing game even when down to three cornerbacks after an injury to Dre Kirkpatrick. The defense held Pittsburgh to just 3 for 12 on third down and 278 total yards for the game.
“We executed our game plan,” Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko told reporters after the game. “Coach Zimmer put together a great game plan. We went out and stopped the run and were able to get after their quarterback. It was a great night for the Who-Dey Nation.”
With the first win under their belts, the road gets no easier for the Bengals as they welcome the high-flying offense of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers to Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.