When the Bengals fell to 2-5 Sunday, it marked the earliest day a Marvin Lewis team suffered its fifth loss. In 2004, the Bengals were also 2-5 following a 27-20 loss in Tennessee on Oct. 31.
In 30 regular-season games against the Bengals under Bill Cowher, six different Pittsburgh backs rushed for 100 yards 21 times and the Steelers won 17 times. New Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has taken the torch and on Sunday burnt the Bengals with Willie Parker's 126 yards on 22 carries in his first game against Cincinnati.
With his ninth touchdown catch of the season Sunday, Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh has caught at least one in every game this season, and dating back to last year has scored at least one in 11 of the last 13 games. Chad Johnson was blanked for the fifth straight game after catching three in the first two games.
Houshmandzadeh's seven straight games with at least one touchdown is now the second longest streak in Bengals history, besting the six of running backs Stan Fritts (Nov., 17-Dec. 21, 1975) and Rudi Johnson (Nov. 6-Dec. 18, 2005). The record is the 10 of wide receiver Carl Pickens from Nov. 27, 1994-Oct. 1, 1995.
Houshmandzadeh's seven catches give him 58 for the season, still a 130-catch pace.
Chad Johnson's struggles against Pittsburgh continued. He hasn't had a 100-yard day against them since 2003, a touchdown against them since 2004, and his 51 yards Sunday on five catches were a season low.
Since Carson Palmer became the Bengals quarterback and former Bengals head coach Dick LeBeau signed up for a second tour as the Steelers defensive coordinator in 2004, Pittsburgh has held the Bengals to 17 points or less in six of eight games.
Bengals running back Kenny Watson fell 12 yards shy of becoming the first back to gain 100 yards against the Steelers in 32 straight games, since the Colts' Edgerrin James in November of 2005. Dating back 58 games to October of 2004, James and the Bengals' Rudi Johnson are the only backs to hit 100 against the Steelers.
Before Watson's fumble with 3:16 left in the game, the Bengals had scored points on all 20 previous red-zone trips this season. Getting only one touchdown out of four red-zone trips Sunday cost them and was uncharacteristic. Cincinnati came into the game with 11 touchdowns on 17 trips, tied for third in touchdown percentage in the NFL.
For the third time this season the Bengals defense stopped a team from getting any points in the red zone when cornerback Deltha O'Neal stepped in front of a Ben Roethlisberger pass headed to wide receiver Cedrick Wilson at the Bengals 5 midway through the third quarter and the Steelers leading, 21-6. But it was too little too late. The Steelers scored touchdowns on their first three trips.