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5 Winners and 7 Losers after the Steelers’ 37-30 loss to the Bengals in Week 11

Time to take a look at who would be considered a ‘Winner’ and a ‘Loser’ after the Steelers latest action on the gridiron.

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Sunday when they played the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 11 of regular season action. The Steelers were losers in the contest, but that doesn’t mean every player had a good or bad performance.

Players who play well can be considered ‘Winners’, while those who left a lot to be desired can be called ‘Losers’. It may sound harsh, but it is the crux of this exercise.

Let’s check in to see who fell on which side of the ledger after the latest game...


George Pickens
Stat Line: 4 catches, 83 yards, 20.8 average, 1 TD, 33 long, 6 targets

On a day when Diontae Johnson wasn’t the focus of the offensive plan, Pickens seemed to have his way with the Bengals’ secondary. When you consider what his stat line could have looked like had Kenny Pickett’s pass not been overthrown, and Dan Moore not held on that same play, or if Pickens hadn’t dropped the would-be touchdown in the 4th quarter. Nonetheless, Pickens still had a tremendous game, and has shown he is more than just a one-trick pony. Sure, Pickens got disqualified from the game, but that isn’t enough for me to keep him off the winners list.

1st Half Offense
Stat Line: 20 1st half points

I’m not about to let how the game ended skew my view of how the game started. If the halves had been flipped and the Steelers finished the game strong, narratives would be different, in my opinion. There were moments when fans wondered if the offense would ever score 20 points in a game. They did it in the first half. Matt Canada called a tremendous game in the first half, but sadly it was followed by the second half.

Najee Harris
Stat Line: 20 carries, 90 yards, 4.5 ave., 2 TD, 19 long / 4 catches, 26 yards, 6.5 ave., 12 long, 6 targets

When the team was without Jaylen Warren due to a hamstring injury, it was a bell cow night for Najee Harris. Harris responded with a tremendous game on the ground, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Sadly, when the offense lose Mason Cole to a foot injury midway through the game, they were unable to continue to run the ball between the tackles, which they were extremely successful doing in the first half, and it forced Harris to the outside where he is less effective. Nonetheless, since the bye Harris has had 99 and 90 yards rushing, and the hope is he is on his way back to the form we saw in 2021.

T.J. Watt
Stat Line: 6 tackles, 2 solo, 0.5 sack, 2 pass defenses, 1 QB Hit, 1 INT

If I had a vote for Steelers MVP, it would go to T.J. Watt. He is that valuable to the team. His interception of Joe Burrow, his second interception of the Bengals quarterback this season, just shows how freakish and athletic Watt is when on the field. The Bengals did everything they could to eliminate Watt from the game, and he still made plays. Watt is a winner.

Levi Wallace
Stat Line: 4 tackles, 3 solo, 2 pass defenses, 1 INT

Is Levi Wallace Ahkello Witherspoon 2.0? When I say this, I think back to how Witherspoon finished the 2021 season on his tear of interceptions. Since coming off his injured shoulder, and the bye week, Wallace has had two interceptions in two games. While he might not be the answer at cornerback for the Steelers, he absolutely could be a piece of the puzzle moving forward.


2nd Half Offense
Stat Line: 10 points scored

For as good as the offense was in the first half, they were equally bad in the second half. The Steelers didn’t even register a first down till almost the end of the third quarter, and even when they were gifted good field position they did nothing with it. The play calling in the second half was abysmal, and downright strange at times. An example would be after their lone third down conversion in third quarter, a go route to Pickens along the right sideline, the offense goes hurry up and tries one of the more awkward flea flickers you’ll ever see. Pickett has to throw it away, followed by a negative run and a sack. The success they saw vanished, and that was the trend for the third and fourth quarters until garbage time.

Matt Canada
Stat Line: Mind numbing play calls/predictability

Yes, I did say earlier in the winners section how Canada called a good first half, but the second half was bad enough to get the play caller on the losers list. It wasn’t just the aforementioned sequence, but a series of play calls which became very predictable. Plays where you could tell based on the down, distance, and formation the Bengals knew exactly what the Steelers wanted to do offensively. There is no greater slap in the face as a play caller than someone saying you are predictable, and that’s what Canada was in the second half.

Whoever was guarding Tee Higgins
Stat Line: 9 catches, 148 yards, 16.4 average, 33 yard long, 13 targets

No Ja’Marr Chase, no problem, right? Wrong. Tee Higgins did his best Chase impersonation Sunday, and he did it to near perfection. The only thing Higgins didn’t do was to score a touchdown. 148 yards, and he was breaking off chunk plays with ease. He was beating anyone who stepped opposite him, and it was painful to watch.

Whoever was tasked with stopping Perine
Stat Line: 11 carries, 30 yards, 2.7 average, 8 yard long / 4 receptions, 52 yards, 13.0 average, 3 TDs, 29 yard long, 4 targets

The Bengals were coming off their bye week, and you could tell their plan of attack, especially in the first half, was to stretch the Steelers defense by using their running backs in the passing game. And it worked. Perine and Mixon both had solid days, and after Mixon left with a concussion Perine continued to do damage to the tune of 3 receiving touchdowns. He beat Myles Jack, Robert Spillane and Devin Bush. It didn’t matter, and it, too, was painful to watch.

Stat Line: 8-for-70

The Steelers are a team who cannot withstand several self-inflicted wounds, but the penalties were a big issue in Week 11. Pat Freiermuth and Dan Moore both notched holding calls, Diontae Johnson and Kenny Pickett had false starts and of course there was the illegal man downfield call. These penalties are the things which can be fixed, but clearly get overlooked.

Red-Zone Defense
Stat Line: 3-for-3

Bend, but don’t break defense is a philosophy which can win you a lot of games in the NFL. The key to this philosophy though is to not break. The Steelers broke plenty as the Bengals were perfect in the red-zone, and they surrendered 37 points. Yes, 37 points. There wasn’t a pick-six thrown by Pickett, and while the offense didn’t bail out the defense, the defense certainly didn’t help by giving up 37 points. Not sure if I mentioned the point total...

2nd Half Adjustments
Stat Line: Where were they?

I think back to the defensive adjustments made in vs. the Miami Dolphins on Sunday Night Football, and I expected those type of changes vs. the Bengals Sunday. If they happened, it didn’t work. On offense, I was hoping to see the offense continue to move the ball and get creative when it was a good time to do so. If it happened, it didn’t work. This is when coaching matters, and it feels as if the Steelers were left on the short end of that stick more often than not this season.

If you want a more detailed look at the above list, check out my “Let’s Ride” podcast where I outline each Winner and Loser, and MORE!