Pittsburgh, PA (KDKA)- A 27-3 blowout of the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football earned Mike Tomlin and the Steelers their first victory of the season.
It was a total effort from the defense, as the unit sacked Andy Dalton eight times and allowed just 175 total yards. The defensive performance impressed NFL On CBS analyst Rich Gannon, who says he believes we saw a frustrated group, tired of hearing the criticism, take out its frustrations on Monday.
“They have been hearing it from the media, from fans, it’s just been a disappointing start for them. They really got it going Monday night,” said Gannon. “The pass rush was terrific. They were tighter in coverage, created negative plays and stopped the run. Really just checking every box. It was a really good effort defensively.”
Still, a win over the 0-4 Bengals doesn’t cure all ills, something that Gannon readily acknowledges. But, it does offer some hope to fans, who have been largely devoid of that emotion since the injury to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Week 2. Offering further reason for hope? The play of quarterback Mason Rudolph, who in his second career start, completed 85 percent of his passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns. Gannon says that kind of performance is what you should expect from a guy who has had the time to work with the first team for three consecutive weeks and is now getting more comfortable.
Combine that with an offensive line starting to return to form, and you have a recipe for a strong offense once again.
“This is a really good group up front, and they hadn’t shown it until Monday night. But you have a new quarterback in there with a new cadence, and that can change things sometimes, so I think they are still working through that.”
Another stat in favor of the Steelers is the play of their opponent this point. The Ravens have given up over 1,000 yards of offense combined to the Chiefs and Browns over the last two weeks and have struggled with giving up explosive plays. That is one area where Rudolph hasn’t quite gotten going yet, as 12 of his 28 pass attempts against the Bengals were caught at or behind the line of scrimmage and only six passes went further than 10 yards downfield. Still, Monday night’s performance could be a building block for the team moving forward.
“A win over the Bengals doesn’t necessarily mean all the issues are corrected and addressed,” said Gannon. “I still think they have a ways to go, but it was a step in the right direction.”
The Steelers host the Ravens at Heinz Field on Sunday with kickoff slated for 1 p.m. Eastern Time on CBS.