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Day After Thoughts: Burrow Gets an Education, Secondary Struggles, 3rd Down Issues

There’s been plenty of positives this season for rookie QB Joe Burrow and the Bengals, let’s just say that Sunday in Pittsburgh wasn’t one of them.

The team was beatdown by an undefeated Steelers team that simply outplayed them in just about every area, winning the turnover battle along with just being more physical in just about every facet.

Now sitting at 2-6-1, the Bengals will have to erase the memory of Sunday’s beatdown, and get ready for the Washington Football Team on the road Sunday at 1pm at FedEx Field.

Here’s some thoughts on the 36-10 loss to the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

1. A Rough Lesson

From taking a number of hits from the likes of T.J. Watt to seeing coverages he likely has never seen before, it was a day of learning the hard way for rookie QB Joe Burrow.

The rookie was sacked four times, and ended the day 21-for-40 for 213 yards with a score and a QB rating of 76.4.

Zac Taylor didn’t want to single out Burrow’s struggles, stating that it was most of the team that had issues.

“I don’t think any of us were in a rhythm, quite frankly, on offense,” Taylor said.

“Just me as a play caller, guys making plays when they had the opportunity. Just we were off today, and that starts with me.”

The Steelers spent a solid portion of the game early on dropping players in coverage to try and confuse Burrow, and it stopped the Bengals from getting any early momentum, something that wasn’t lost on Burrow.

“They’re a really good defense, and that’s what the great defenses do, they play one or two things and they’re really, really good at them,” Burrow said.

“We were moving the ball in the first half after we were three-and-out three straight times, and then I thought we hit our groove, and then I just played terrible in the second half. A missed a lot of throws that I usually make. That was the game. I missed a lot of throws in the second half.”

2. Secondary Chewed Up

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger did just about whatever he wanted against the Bengals secondary, throwing for 333 yards and four scores.

He wasn’t sacked, and while it would be easy to blame the secondary, something has to be said for a pass rush that just didn’t do all that much to make life tough on the Steelers QB.

Cincinnati’s secondary was banged up, as the team had just three corners that were healthy after Mackensie Alexander was ruled out with a concussion.

It’s crazy to think that Roethlisberger missed basically the entire week of practice yet was able to come out and play as well as he did.

The secondary needs to play better over the last seven games of the season, and also do whatever it can to get players healthy.

3. The Third Down Issue

Sunday the Steelers defense held the Bengals to an ugly 0-for-13 on third downs and 16 first downs overall.

The Steelers #1 defense did a very good job on Burrow making him uncomfortable in the pocket, and their secondary also seemed to be physical with the likes of Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, knocking down passes and not allowing there to be space between them and Bengals wide outs.

It’s not uncommon for young teams that are learning to win to have struggles on third downs, but not converting one having 13 shots at it is a sure-fire recipe to lose a game.

Maybe the Bengals defense, which allowed 6-for-16 on third downs in the 26-point loss, can learn some things from the way the Steelers defense handled the Bengals offense on third downs.

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