» Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said his team needs to play more nasty.
"It's almost like we're too nice," Lewis said.
There wasn't a lot of agreement in the locker room on that, but left end Robert Geathers agreed with Lewis that the team's play is not matching its talent.
"Maybe we're not as good as we think we are," Geathers said. "I think we have talent. Every team in the NFL is talented. We have to figure out how to play with that talent."
Quarterback Andy Dalton, off a career-high 381 yards passing, also agreed something is missing.
"I wouldn't say we're too nice. We just need to find an edge," Dalton said.
»The result is clearly a blow. Two straight losses to rookie quarterbacks that came into games against the Bengals with a combined record of 1-8. Now the 2-3 Steelers have a life against the 3-3 Bengals next Sunday (8:20 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 5) at Paul Brown Stadium.
"We had a good chance to go up and get more ahead of Pittsburgh. We let this one slip through our fingers. We can't do that again," said Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko. "We told each other right after the game, we looked each other in the eye and said we can't do this again. We can't be giving away games like this. A division game, an AFC game."
» There was a bit of controversy at the end of the first half when after a 25-yard completion to Green to the Cleveland 16 and the Bengals out of timeouts, Dalton hurried to the line and spiked the ball to stop the clock. The officials ruled that the spike occurred after time had already run out, although television replays seemed to indicate there was still one second left when the ball hit the ground.
"That's not a reviewable play," referee Pete Morelli told a pool reporter after the game. "The clock is taken on the field by the line judge and the back judge who has the secondary – the line judge has primary. I got a signal from them that after the snap when the ball hit the ground there were zeros on clock so half over."
Dalton didn't see the clock as he pulled the spike, but he thought he beat it.
"I didn't necessarily see what time the ball hit the ground, but I guess they said we didn't get the spike in time," Dalton said. "I thought we had it. We ran up real quick and did everything we could."
When asked why about 12 seconds went off the clock between the first and second play on that drive he indicated he thought the sideline was deciding if it should continue with the two-minute drill.
"They were trying to figure out if they wanted to keep going with the two-minute drill. We did lose some time there," Daltion said.
» One of the key moments of the game came when Cleveland returner Josh Cribbs took a Kevin Huber punt 60 yards with the Bengals holding a 14-7 lead in the third quarter.
Safety Jeromy Miles, who was the gunner on the play, ran by Cribbs at the 10-yard line. He said he thought Cribbs had signaled for a fair catch.
"I think everybody on our punt team thought he signaled for a fair catch," linebacker Dan Skuta said. "But that's no excuse. You still have to make a play. That definitely was a play that sparked them."
Cleveland went on to get a 41-yard field goal by Phil Dawson on that drive that cut the Bengals lead to 14-10.
» Running back Brian Leonard injured his rib and left in the second quarter after a special teams play. He doesn't know the extent of the injury and said he'll get an X-ray on Monday. The Bengals are down to two healthy backs and Cedric Peerman filled in with a career-high eight catches for 76 yards. He came into the game with one career catch.
» Center Jeff Faine was replaced for a series by rookie Trevor Robinson during the first half but he said he wasn't injured, went back in the game, and said he thought the Bengals wanted to give Robinson a series.
»A.J. Green said after another big day he wished there was one ball he didn't try to catch, and that was when he tried to make a play on Dalton's first interception that bounced off his hands and into the arms of cornerback Joe Haden. Green finished with seven catches for 135 yards and two more touchdowns, his fifth straight game he's caught a TD. It's also his second most yards in a game.
"I should have knocked it down," Green said. "I was trying to make a play but I put Andy in a bad position."
» Dalton was surprised the Bengals couldn't get the running game going.
"We got the looks we expected," Dalton said. "We've got to be able to figure it out."
» Dalton threw three interceptions on Sunday, the second time he has thrown that many in a regular-season game (31-24 loss in Baltimore on Nov. 20 of last season). He also had three interceptions in last year's Wild Card game at Houston.
The last one was a desperate heave into the end zone in the last minute. He said he shouldn't have thrown the slant that got picked by cornerback Sheldon Brown for a 19-yard TD return, Dalton's thid pick-six of the season.
"He was sitting on it," Dalton said.
» The Bengals were minus-3 in the turnover battle, dropping them to minus-7 on the season. The Bengals are now 1-3 this season when they are minus turnovers and 11-53 under Lewis.