The Bengals pointed to quarterback Andy Dalton's end-of-half interception as a big play, if not the biggest, in Sunday night's 24-17 loss to the Steelers. Particularly Dalton as the Bengals let a 14-3 lead slip away.
"You're looking at getting points, or keeping it the same. Then it's an interception and they get points," he said. "Yeah it's big."
It looked like Dalton was throwing over the middle to either wide receivers Mohamed Sanu or Ryan Whalen, two guys that made their first catches of the season. Dalton said the Steelers jumped the route and he tried to pull it back and it floated out of his hand.
"I was trying to hold the ball back. The guy jumped the route, and it slipped out of my hand. Unfortunate play," he said. "Sometimes when your arm gets going and you're trying to hold the ball back, it can come out. It took a perfect bounce off the guy's helmet and went right into the defender's hands."
JONES TAKES HIT: The Bengals plan to use speed wide receiver Marvin Jones more was foiled before the first snap when the rookie injured his knee blocking on the kick return. The Bengals wouldn't confirm it but word out of the locker room is Jones suffered an MCL sprain and is out three to four weeks.
The Bengals had planned to use Jones more than ever and with the Steelers taking wide receiver A.J. Green out of the game with one catch for eight yards, their two leading receivers on the night were two guys that made their first catches of the season. In his fifth NFL game and first of this season, second-year receiver Whalen had four catches for 31 yards and Sanu added three for 27. It looked like Whalen and Sanu took the majority of the snaps in the slot while Andrew Hawkins played primarily on special teams.
As for losing Jones, Lewis said, "Obviously it affects a lot of things, because he practices certain plays, so you're down a guy that you anticipate having. You have to adjust and move on. It's part of the game. We just didn't get the ball spread out very well today. We had balls going through guys' hands, and that hurts you too."
TEZ AGAIN: The best Bengal on the field, if it wasn't left tackle Andrew Whitworth and right tackle Andre Smith blanking the Steelers for sacks (James Harrison didn't make the stat sheet working against Whitworth), had to be rookie WILL backer Vontaze Burfict. According to the stat sheet, Burfict had a monster game with 15 tackles, the third time he's led the team in tackles in his five starts and the fourth time he was in double figures.
RUSH STREET: The Steelers not only came in with the worst rushing game in the NFL, but their top two running backs were out and third-year man Jonathan Dwyer was making his first NFL start. So Dwyer went for 122 yards on 17 carries, including a 32-yarder on third-and-seven with 1:20 left.
Dwyer also had a 21-yarder, the first runs of 20-plus for the Steelers this season.
"They came out in three wide receivers and ran the ball in the second half after they didn't get much before," said safety Chris Crocker. "It was us. It was self-inflicted. We missed a lot of tackles."
ANOTHER PICK: Crocker, who re-signed with the club Sept. 27, now has both interceptions by the secondary this season. With the Bengals leading 7-3, he made a leaping interception on the back line of the end zone when Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took a shot at tight end Heath Miller.
"It was something I had a good feel for. I'd seen it a few times in my career," Crocker said. "I got a good break on it and it was a little overthrown. I've got hands, too. I'm a bad receiver, that's what DBs are, but I can catch one now and again."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Bengals center Jeff Faine didn't play the second half when he reaggravated his hamsting and rookie center Trevor Robinson finished it out. Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton made a big play against Robinson on second-and-eight from the Bengals 13 with 4:55 left in the game when he dropped running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis for a two-yard loss on second-and-eight. The next play turned out to be Cincinnati's last, an incompletion to the double-covered Green.
"The nature of playing offensive line is, when you have a bad play, it's glaring," Robinson said. "There are a couple plays I'd like to have back. It's tough to make a mistake that keeps your team from being successful at a critical time. As a young guy, I have to learn from it."
Faine, who says he'll be back the week after the bye when the Bengals host the Broncos Nov. 4, stayed on the sidelines to help Robinson. Also helping was injured center Kyle Cook (ankle), the first time he's been able to go on the sidelines.
» Lewis admitted he didn't have a strong case when he challenged a two-yard catch by Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace. Despite a replay that showed Wallace's knee hit the ground before the ball came out, Lewis stil threw the flag late in the third quarter and lost a timeout.
"It was thought (Wallace) rolled over Leon Hall (before losing the ball). Unfortunately, I think his knees touched before he did roll over Leon, so he was down immediately. It was just an error," Lewis said.