Posted September 17, 2013 on
AP on Fox
The balance of power is shifting in the AFC North.
Running back Giovani Bernard scored his first two NFL touchdowns on Monday night, and the Cincinnati Bengals beat the struggling Pittsburgh Steelers 20-10, an early sign of a change in the division's ranks.
At 0-2 for the first time in 11 years, the Steelers no longer seem to be one of the North's heavyweights. And the Bengals (1-1) have a lot going for them with an influx of rookies who are changing their offense significantly.
On Monday night, those rookies made their first impression on an old rivalry.
''It's AFC North football, man,'' Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. ''It's physical. It's nasty, getting after each other. We were in a situation at the end of the game where we were trying to run the ball to win it and eat up the clock. We were getting after it.''
And the Steelers?
''We have work to do,'' coach Mike Tomlin said. ''We aren't going to hide from that fact. We are going to embrace it and accept it, and understand that there is some misery that comes from the position we are in right now.''
Five things we learned from their first meeting of the season:
1. BENGALS HAVE THE UPPER HAND: They defeated the Steelers at Heinz Field last December to beat them out for the final wild-card spot, and now have beaten them twice in a row for the first time since 2009. They piled up 407 yards on offense - 127 on the ground - and held the ball for more than 35 minutes. Their defense limited the Steelers to 44 yards rushing. The numbers suggest there's a growing gap between the old Steelers and young Bengals, though they're not quite ready to proclaim it. ''This doesn't define anything until you look back at the end of the year,'' coach Marvin Lewis said.
2. THE NEW GUYS MAKE CINCINNATI DANGEROUS: First-round pick Tyler Eifert caught a 61-yard pass that set up Bernard's 7-yard touchdown run. The second-round pick from North Carolina got his second TD on his own, taking a short pass from Andy Dalton for a 27-yard score. Dalton has a lot of options now with a tight end who can move around the field and a running back who can catch it and make `em miss. ''A lot of weapons, man,'' All-Pro receiver A.J. Green said. ''That's the biggest thing.''
3. STEELERS ARE HURTING: They managed only 32 yards on the ground during an opening 16-9 loss to Tennessee at Heinz Field. Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey was lost for the season with a knee injury in that one. Fernando Velasco, signed a week earlier, started in his place Monday, and the Steelers didn't do much better, gaining only 44 yards on the ground. They failed to get a first down on seven of their 12 possessions, which kept their defense from getting much rest. ''There's not a lot of positives going on right now,'' said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was 20 of 37 for 251 yards with one touchdown and a deflected interception. ''We can't start doubting each other. Right now, there's a general feeling of being upset.''
4. WHAT'S UP WITH THAT DEFENSE? Pittsburgh's success has been built on its defense, which was No. 1 in the NFL last season but has played out of character in the back-to-back losses. Tennessee committed to running the ball in the opener and picked up 112 yards. The Bengals ran for 127, most of them in the second half when they were putting the game away. The offense's repeated three-and-out series are putting a lot of pressure on the defense, but coverage breakdowns have been involved, too. ''We do have to be a lot more sound,'' safety Ryan Clark said. ''If we don't, this is going to keep happening.''
5. HARRISON WASN'T A FACTOR: A lot of the attention was on Bengals linebacker James Harrison playing his former team for the first time. He didn't have a tackle or a sack, and gave Roethlisberger a hug on the field afterward - the closest he got to the quarterback all night. ''We just talked,'' Harrison said.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
The fantasy community has been saying it all summer – “its only a matter of time before Giovani Bernard proves that he’s the better fit for the Bengals’ system and the better back overall.” Tonight, on football’s biggest stage, he proved it. Bernard checked in after Cincinnati’s offense sputtered for most of the first quarter revitalizing the offense on the team’s...
Well, what do you know.
According to Trendsmap, tweets with the hashtags #firehaley or #firetoddhaley were trending in Pittsburgh early Tuesday morning following the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 20-10 road loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Steelers fell to 0-2 for the first time in 11 years, and for the first time during Mike Tomlin’s tenure as head coach.
But firing Todd Haley will...
Cincinnati Bengals veteran tackle Andrew Whitworth is active for the Monday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and expected to start after missing all of the preseason and the first regular season game last week with a knee problem.
Whitworth, a one-time Pro Bowler, had a procedure done on one of his knees during the offseason to clean up some scar tissue that had bothered...
Touted rookies Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard have given the Bengals a more explosive offense. That's a big deal for a team eyeing something more than one-and-done in the playoffs.
Andrew Whitworth walked purposely toward the sideline as his offensive teammates behind him huddled for their final play of the game. After finding himself in the middle of three chippy scraps in four plays he couldn't help himself.
He waved his arms in the air to urge on the orange-clad Bengals fans celebrating their second home victory against the Steelers in the last 13...
While James Harrison is haunting opposing teams on the field, his ghost is busy haunting the Monday Night Football booth.
The Pittsburgh Steelers ground attack has turned into molten steel and as Chris Wesseling of NFL.com reports, Steelers head coach, Mike Tomlin, is burning mad and ready for a change.With rookie running back Le’Veon Bell still sidelined with an ailing foot, RB Isaac Redman has not looked like the answer. It is not all Redman’s fault, as the Steelers’ offense has collectively...
According to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown got in the face of offensive coordinator Todd Haley and angrily expressed his unhappiness with not getting the football.
The Steelers’ problems go deeper than their 0-2 record, and they bubbled over along the sideline in the second half of Monday night’s game in Cincinnati.
Only a few minutes into the Pittsburgh Steelers' season opener against Tennessee last week, they lost one of their key players in center Maurkice Pouncey. For Todd Haley, the sideline response felt all too familiar.
The former Kansas City Chiefs head coach watched his team lose safety Eric Berry on opening day in 2011 and then running back Jamaal Charles a week later. Both times...
Bootsy Collins was at the Bengals versus Steelers game on Monday night, and he wasn't even the most outlandishly-dressed person in the stadium.
By Matthew Marczi
The Pittsburgh Steelers appear poised to get more use out of their defensive rookies than they have in a long time tonight as they take on James Harrison and the Cincinnati Bengals. One of those young defensive players will be Harrison’s replacement, and the team’s first draft selection this year, outside linebacker Jarvis Jones.
There have been reports that...
According to NFL.com’s Around the League, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin told Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico of ESPN’s Monday Night Football that tight end Heath Miller could be ready to play this week.
Tomlin told Gruden + Tirico there is a "chance" Heath Miller will return for Week 3 versus the Bears.
— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) September 17, 2013
Early season divisional matchups are always important, but tonight’s game between the Bengals and the Steelers holds particular importance for the teams involved. The winner will keep pace with the Baltimore Ravens atop the AFC North, but the loser will fall a game back in a division that could very easily be decided by a tie-breaker at the end of the season.
The Steelers are...
By Jeremy Hritz
Time to move on from the awful play of a week ago against the Tennessee Titans and to focus on the imminent matchup against the AFC North favorites, Cincinnati Bengals. While conventional wisdom says the Pittsburgh Steelers will have a difficult time competing in Cincy based on their abysmal performance in week one, it’s difficult to envision the Steelers playing...