Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 11/14/11
CINCINNATI -- A.J. Green went up between Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu, two of the game's best safeties. Green came down with the ball -- and a 36-yard Bengals touchdown. The Bengals' uber-rookie does things like that. Unfortunately, Green came down awkwardly on his right knee. He was down in the end zone for nearly a minute before being helped off. He came back and took an end around for 7 yards in the second quarter, but he the"n left the game again. The second time around, he didn't return. The Bengals lost a tough one Sunday, a tough one on many levels. Green insisted after the game he's going to be OK for next week at Baltimore, and the Bengals will need him. Going back to him is probably one of many regrets the Bengals carry from Sunday. They probably didn't need to call that end around. Rookie coordinator Jay Gruden probably wishes he had that one back. Later, star cornerback Leon Hall was lost to an Achilles injury, probably for the season. Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton battled and hung in there against a nasty, veteran defense but was intercepted twice in the fourth quarter. So many missed opportunities. So much frustration. The Bengals were close to winning six in a row, and this one easily would have been their biggest yet. The sight of Green spending the fourth quarter on an exercise bike behind the Bengals bench instead of trying to leap Polamalu again -- or at least draw the Steelers defense to him -- summed up a disappointing afternoon for the Bengals. They're real. They're just not quite there yet. In the fourth quarter, the Steelers did what the Steelers do. The more polished, more big stage-ready team won. They made plays early and we didnt," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "We had a chance for an interception in the second quarter and didnt get it. Another time the ball was up in the air being batted around, and we didnt get it, and they ended up scoring a touchdown. You have to make those kind of plays in this game. Those are the things we need to continue to get after." The Steelers used the first quarter to shake the frustration of last week's shocking, last-play loss to the Ravens and remind everyone -- most especially themselves -- that they're still the Steelers. The Bengals bounced back and got back in, both with the big play to Green and with a collective calming of the nerves. It was Green's sixth touchdown of the year and his fifth from Dalton. The NFL's rookie-to-rookie record of 10 is well within their sights. Green has 41 catches on the year, averaging 15.5 per pop. He's already a star. As for the knee, the Bengals are calling it a hyperextension. They'll know more this week. "I think I'll be back," Greeen said. "We're going to keep fighting." We didnt play our best game, and we were in this game the whole time," Dalton said. "There are some positive things to take away from the loss, but it hurts to lose. There were some good things to take away, but were going to do everything we can to get ready and get back next week. Next week is another prove-it game for the Bengals. They hope Green will be back. They hope Carlos Dunlap and Adam Jones will be back, too, especially because it looks like Hall won't be. The games will go on. The challenges will continue. The Bengals' young players will continue to grow. The next three games are also division games, so the evaluation will come quickly. The Bengals are back to second place, but they're still ahead of schedule. And they showed Sunday that the rest of the schedule is worth watching.
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