First on Sunday, Tyler Boyd stood up on the Paul Brown Stadium turf and put the Bengals on the brink of their first victory of the season with a dazzling 101-yard day, his third 100-yard day of the season and first against his hometown Steelers.
Second on Sunday, he stood up in front of his locker and took the blame for the 16-10 loss when his fumble at the Steelers 8 after a huge 22-yard catch with 8:45 left in a 13-10 game proved to be the latest in another series of fourth quarter heartbreak during this dreadful 10-game-what-else-can-happen losing streak to the Steelers that began with Andy Dalton's broken throwing thumb.
"When I caught that, I knew we won the game," said a bloodied but unbowed Boyd. "I take full responsibility for that play … We wouldn't be having this conversation. (The media would ask) how did it feel to get that first one?"
Boyd said he didn't even think Steelers rookie middle Devin Bush was trying to punch the ball out from behind.
"I think he was just trying to tackle me," Boyd said …
- The Bengals are 0-11 for the first time in their history and after failing to score two touchdowns for the third straight time since rookie quarterback Ryan Finley got the job, head coach Zac Taylor faced a blizzard of quarterback questions in the postgame. Finley has yet to exude that pre-season pocket presence while completing just 47 percent of his passes while taking 11 sacks and converting five of his last 25 third downs. But it sounds like Taylor isn't going back to Andy Dalton just yet.
"Right now, Ryan's our quarterback. It's not something I even think about," Taylor said. "When you look across the league at any young quarterbacks playing, look at their first three games. There's struggles. We always have to look at all our personnel, but you also have to understand, at the same time, that there's some challenges. We're down two starting receivers right now. That's hard for a rookie quarterback … If you evaluated every rookie quarterback after three games, there'd be no quarterbacks playing right now. It'd be a bunch of old guys like (Kansas City Chiefs QB) Matt Moore out there, 38 years old, picked up off the street. That's where we'd be with the quarterback position." …
_Finley has now overseen the second lowest scoring November in team history with 33 points in three games, better than only another three-game November, the 20 points of 2001. That year the Bengals scored 226 points, the second lowest of the century. They are now on pace to score 228.
"I've got to play better," Finley said. "I thought we got the running game going a little bit and made a couple big plays down the field, but just not enough to win. We had a chance at the end to drive down and score a touchdown, but we weren't able to do it. We have to be better."
_With the Steelers daring Finley to beat them buy jamming the box, running back Joe Mixon showed just how good he is. After grinding for 15 yards on seven carries in the first half, he somehow finished with 79 yards on 18 carries despite wearing a big black and gold blanket. They did make a minor adjustment at halftime by also putting man-on-man blocking on the back side as well as the front side. Plus, they had Mixon. On one pitch to the right, Mixon reversed field on a dime and had defensive tackle Cam Heyward, linebackers Bud Dupree and Vince Williams, and safety Terrell Edmunds all in pursuit before Mixon finished off the nine-yard run on the other sideline by drilling his shoulder into cornerback Steven Nelson before running him over.
Before Boyd's fumble, Mixon set up the play-action with one hellacious 11-yard run in and out of the arms of linebacker T.J. Watt. Then he had another run for nine, but never saw the ball again. When the Bengals got the ball back with 5:32 left at their own 7, Taylor went five wides and Finley fired three incompletions for the last of their eight three-and-outs, and two were nearly intercepted.
'We needed to get out of there. Then, we were going to have runs at our disposal," Taylor said of starting so deep. "But, we felt good about a couple of those passes out of the empty sets that were going to get us our first down, and get us moving. Then, we can get back into our normal offense. It wasn't going to be a huddle up and change personnel. But, we would have some runs at our disposal. When you start out incomplete on the first one, then second and 10, we wanted to stay out of third and longs. We felt good about the second and 10 play, it just didn't work out for us. So, we were trying to get ourselves back there."
_Cody Glenn made his first start in his first game of the season at left tackle and you really didn't hear his name called until the last play, when Dupree beat him on the edge for a sack-strip of Finley.
"I felt I was doing well. Obviously, I gave up the one at the end. I've got to finish," Glenn said. "But I felt it was good. I haven't played in so long. I've got to finish games."
A month ago, it looked Glenn was gone. Reports had him asking to be cut and disagreeing with the Bengals on how they handled his injury while the Bengals suspended him for a game and fined him $200,000 for conduct detrimental. On Sunday he said it was all behind him.
"It's been like that for a while. As soon as the incident happened, I let it go then," Glenn said. "I try to press forward every day. I don't try to hold on to things for long. I try to help the team. That's all I think about, not so much worrying about things that happened and drag it on. I try to move forward and let it go."
Glenn admits he's not sure what lies ahead with one year left on his deal. But he does seem he satisfied he's healthy enough to keep playing and he's shaking off the criticism.
"At the end of the day, all I can control are the thoughts in my head. That's how I live life," Glenn said. "I haven't played football in so long. It felt great to be out there, especially when you don't know if you can continue to play football or how your career is going to go."
_Cornerback B.W. Webb was in the middle of three of the biggest plays of the game: he got stiff-armed on James Washington's 79-yard touchdown catch and he gave up back-to-back pass interference penalties for 34 yards in the Steelers' field goal drive that gave them the lead for good at 13-10 with 11:59 in the game.
He wasn't pleased with that first P.I. call and neither were the Bengals. An eight-yard penalty. And It came on third and eight and it appeared Washington didn't have a chance to catch it because he slipped. Webb dove to make a play and the flag flew as the Bengals were walking off the field tied at 10 early in the fourth.
"At the end of the day, I really don't want to hear it when they come back and say it shouldn't have been a penalty," said Webb of the letters the NFL sends to teams the next week when they question questionable calls. "Because I'm sure they're going come back and say, 'No, it wasn't pass interference.' Which really doesn't mean anything at that point."
SLANTS AND SCREENS: Left end Carlos Dunlap had his second sack in as many games and shaved Geno Atkins' career lead to half a sack, 75.5-75, both behind Bengals all-time sack leader Eddie Edwards' 83.5 …
For the second straight week Dunlap led intense pressure on the quarterback. On Sunday it was neophytes. Mason Rudolph got benched his eighth start and Devlin Hodges got the save in his third NFL game. Hodges made one play. A 79-yard TD throw where Webb (stiff-armed) and cornerback William Jackson (slip) fell down. Other than that toss, Hodges was a ghastly four of 10 for 39 yards …
"If we can apply pressure to the opponent's offense and create turnovers, that will provide more opportunities with better field position for our offense to score," Dunlap said. "We cannot have penalties or turnovers if we're going to put ourselves in position to win the game. Those are all keys to team success, and I didn't feel we did everything we needed to in order to win. The result is that we lost." …
With nine punts, Kevin Huber was two off his team record for a game. But on the Sunday he tied Lee Johnson with the most games by a Bengals punter with 169, he kept his big year going. He shoved four inside the 20 and had a 44.1 net …
A tough day for NFL kick return leader Brandon Wilson. The Steelers challenged him with four short kicks and his longest return was 27 with an average of 23.5, more than 11 yards below his average …