PITTSBURGH — Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick got his first NFL start Sunday in place of the injured Terence Newman and he had some rocky moments early on in the 30-20 loss to the Steelers at Heinz Field, but he thought he ended up "doing a great job out there."
Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer will no doubt want Kirkpatrick to shore up his tackling, along with everyone else. Kirkpatrick was flagged for a 15-yard facemask penalty on the game's first snap when he pushed running back Le'Veon Bell out of bounds at the end of a five-yard pass. And two plays later he gave a big cushion to wide receiver Antonio Brown and missed the tackle on a short pass for a 12-yard gain.
"I knew they were going to try and come at me. As the game went on, I settled I in and I got comfortable," Kirkpatrick said. "That happens in football. He's a little shifty. It is what it is, we'll go back and watch it and correct it."
Brown had six catches for 66 yards with his longest a grab of 20 yards that appeared to be thrown into a zone on the side of cornerback Adam Jones and safety George Iloka. Pittsburgh's longest reception of the night came on a short pass that wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders broke for 21 yards when middle linebacker Rey Maualuga missed the tackle.
"Not jitters," Kirkpatrick said of his nerves. "Just follow your keys and worry about what is going to happen."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Jermaine Gresham left the game early in the second half with a right hip injury and while he came back on the sidelines, Tyler Eifert played the bulk of the remaining snaps at tight end. Eifert had Cincinnati's longest play of the night, a 19-yarder, as well as his second touchdown of the season on a one-yard pass early in the fourth quarter.
» The intestinal 24-to-48-hour bug going around the locker room hit cornerbacks Adam Jones and Chris Crocker on Friday and Saturday, but they both played Sunday. So did defensive tackle Domata Peko, who seemed to be in the throes of it after the game. Jones had his team-leading third interception of the season when Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger underthrew Sanders at the goal line on Pittsburgh's first series of the second half.
» Brown kept his streak alive of at least five catches for 50 yards in every game this season.
» Last year in Pittsburgh during Cincinnati's 13-10 victory, defensive tackle Geno Atkins had such a big game he was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week with 2.5 sacks. His loss was palpable Sunday. Even though the Bengals were working against a makeshift Steelers offensive line, they didn't get much pressure on Roethlisberger with just one sack and two hits on him, giving them just one sack in the last two games and three in the last three.
» The Bnegals will take the rushing stats, holding Bell to 57 yards on 24 carries, and while the Steelers became just the fifth team to rush for 100 yards against the Bengals this season, it took them 36 carries to get 106 for less than three yards per carry.