That was a tough watch. So many penalties. And I say that as a person who had the Bengals plus 5.5 and ultimately got the cover. Unfortunately, I also had Ryan Shazier and Joe Mixon as my two players going in one league where cumulative season-long points matter.
• Shazier got carted off after a hit. I didn’t see the reply or the carting because I was watching the condensed version of the game. Reports as of Tuesday morning are that it’s a “spinal cord concussion,” and that it might not be as bad as it looked.
• The Bengals best linebacker Vontaze Burfict also got carted off, with a head injury, after getting crushed by a Juju Smith-Schuster crack-back block. There’s no rougher NFL game than when the Bengals play the Steelers.
• Mixon got concussed on a helmet to helmet hit during a run. He looked good early on, and Gio Bernard (13 for 77, 2-for-19) looked good filling in for him. The Bengals terrible offensive line has finally become more adequate – at least with respect to run blocking.
• Andy Dalton played well and would have had a huge game but for some drops and the penalty negating a long bomb TD to A.J. Green. Then again, the hold by Bernard might have made the play possible. The Bengals pass blocking wasn’t especially good, even if Dalton took only two sacks.
• Green went 7-77-2, but on 16 targets! It wasn’t a good game for him in real life, though fantasy owners will take it. The bomb TD that was called back hurt him even more than Dalton obviously.
• Ben Roethlisberger was okay – 7.3 YPA in Cincinnati is solid, and he threw two TDs and only one pick. The problem I see is he’s not as nimble in the pocket as he once was, and when he does buy time, not as adept at making the defense pay. But maybe the coverage had something to do with that.
• Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown are still the top two players in fantasy. Bell went 18-for-76 on the ground and 6-5-106-1 through the air, thanks to a Bengals defender deciding not to push him out of bounds. Brown, who was a game-time decision with a toe injury, went 15-8-101-1.
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• Martavis Bryant continues to be involved with a 6-4-40 line. He also had a return TD negated by a penalty. The Steelers know what they have. Juju Smith-Schuster had a modest 5-4-17 showing.
• The Bengals always find a way to choke against the Steelers. I’m just glad they didn’t cough up the cover.