» Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis chalked up Sunday's loss to lack of production on third down and penalties. The Bengals were 2-for-11 on third down tries and committed a season-high 10 penalties. It all contributed to 232 yards of total offense, Cincinnati's second lowest total of the season.
"We've got to make the corrections, swallow hard, and move on," Lewis said. "If we can't handle it, it wouldn't have been put in our way. It sure got the hell in our way today."
» Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green had six more catches for 87 yards and his 43-yard catch put the Bengals in great shape to take a 7-0 lead early in the game. But his false start wiped out tight end Jermaine Gresham's four-yard touchdown reception.
"I had a big penalty in that drive. I take responsibility for that drive," Green said. "I need to get in and out of the huddle quicker and get set. Tiny little flinch. I was trying to get off the ball quick. I just didn't hold my water."
» With four games left and at 7-5 the Bengals know they are staring at a magic number of 10 wins. Throw in the fact that the Bengals are now in a three-way tie for the last wild card spot, the feeling of urgency felt just as big as the frustration of the big loss.
"We had a chance to put it in our own hands today and we didn't do it," Lewis said.
Defensive tackle Domata Peko knows what has to be done.
"We've got to get better," Peko said. "Time is running out. It's going to take 10-plus wins. We have to run the ball I think."
» Although the Steelers had just 295 yards they ran the ball at better than four yards per carry against a Bengals defense that was missing both of its starting cornerbacks in Leon Hall and Nate Clements, its best pash rusher in Carlos Dunlap, and one of its best run-stoppers in Pat Sims.
"We had some guys down." Peko said. "Nate Clements, Big Pat (Sims), Dunlap. I know that injuries is a part of it, but those are key guys for us and the (Steelers) took advantage. It was ugly."
» It was so ugly that Lewis pulled quarterback Andy Dalton with 13 minutes left in the game. Dalton said he wanted to stay in and that he was healthy. "It was a good chance to get Bruce some work," Lewis said.
» The Bengals special teams that had been so solid all year suffered a blocked field goal for only Mike Nugent's second miss of the season as well as a fumbled kickoff return by Brandon Tate and a Steelers punt return for a touchdown.
"You hate to have it in a big game like that," special-teamer Andrew Hawkins said. "You want to put your best foot forward and they just outplayed us."
» Hawkins, the gunner on the punt team, was involved in a controversial play on Antonio Brown's 60-yard punt return for a touchdown. It looked like cornerback Curtis Brown blocked Hawkins in the back just before Brown caught the ball.
"I'm not really sure because I'm focused on tackling the ball," Hawkins said. "It kind of felt like it was more toward the backside than the side."
» On the blocked field goal, left guard Nate Livings said the Steelers changed up their field goal block scheme after the first field goal had been waved off because of a delay of game penalty.
Nugent said he was surprised when he saw a flag nullifying the first field goal.
"I do everything the same and I did on that play," Nugent said. "I didn't think there was a problem. It will be interesting to see the tape."
» Right tackle Andre Smith suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter and didn't return. After being relaced by Anthony Collins, Smith said he's optimistic he can play next week against Houston at Paul Brown Stadium.