Bengals vs Steelers: 5 winners and 3 losers from NFL week 11

The Cincinnati Bengals headed to Pittsburgh to pull off a three-game skid this season against divisional opponents, and they walked away with a much-needed win against the Steelers.

As always, it was a hard-fought, physical game, but Cincinnati made just enough plays to clinch victory No. 6 and retain a spot in the Wild Card standings for the NFL Playoffs.

Let’s take a look at the winners and losers of Sunday’s game.

winners:

Samaye Perine: Perine on Sunday had the most significant offensive impact he has had all season. While not much of a factor on the ground, he took two screen passes to pay foul in the first half, scoring 14 of the Bengals’ 17 points in the first 30 minutes of play. In the second half, Joe Mixon was out with a concussion and Perine took over as lead defenseman. Perine followed up his first half with a huge touchdown to put the Bengals up 11 points late in the fourth quarter. Perine finished with 11 carries for just 30 yards, but four receptions for 52 yards and three touchdowns. Just a monster performance from an unsung hero of this season, and one that will give the Bengals confidence when Mixon lacks time.

Tee Higgins: Higgins again stepped into the primary wide receiver role with Ja’Marr Chase offside and again he delivered. After an incredible catch on the sidelines late in the second quarter, the early fear was that Higgins himself would suffer a hip injury, but he was back on the first drive of the second half. Higgins was a constant presence and was able to stretch the field to keep the Pittsburgh defense fair. He connected with Burrow on a 33-yard hookup to set up a Trenton Irwin touchdown reception to give the Bengals the lead in the third quarter. Higgins finished with nine receptions for 148 yards and carried the workload of a true number one option.

Evan McPherson: McPherson has had some issues this season, but they don’t seem to shake his confidence. After a drive stalled in the first quarter, McPherson hit a 45-yard kick to give the Bengals an early lead. As the third quarter began to draw to a close, McPherson intervened again, this time from 54 yards out. It was a huge moment in the game, extending the Bengals’ lead to four as momentum appeared to shift in Pittsburgh’s favor. With 3:18 in the fourth quarter, McPherson put the icing on the cake with a 44-yard field goal to extend the Bangladeshi lead to 14. McPherson finished the day perfectly and looks back on “Money Mac” form.

Trenton Irwin: Irwin didn’t fill the stats sheet by any means, but his four receptions for 42 yards seemed to land on some big moments. Add in his touchdown reception and you have a solid day of a depth receiver as an attack deal with their main target out. Cincinnati will need more gigs like this as long as Ja’Marr Chase is out. Chase has yet to return to practice as he recovers from a significant hip injury.

Drue Chrisman: All eyes were on the punting battle in practice this week and Chrisman got his chance on Sunday, replacing longtime starter Kevin Huber. Chrisman got off to a great start and handled a less than ideal snap on Evan McPherson’s field goal in the first quarter. Punting wasn’t much of a concern for fans leading up to the game, but keeping points after and field goal attempts was, given how the first game went. From a punter’s standpoint, Chrisman couldn’t have got off to a better start. His first kick of the day went for 53 yards and a bulge from the Pittsburgh returner put them within their own 5-yard line. Chrisman finished the game with two more solid kicks and ended the day with a 50-yard average on three kicks.

losers:

Cordell Volson: Week 1 was not kind to Volson against Pittsburgh. In the second go-around, Volson played better, but still had a rough day. After a bad first quarter rep against Heyward, Volson quickly bounced back and was a key blocker on one of Perine’s two touchdown screens. In the third quarter, Volson missed a stunt leading to a dismissal of Alex Highsmith and on the next play he let Heyward come through again, pressuring Burrow in third. Unfortunately, that continued, as Heyward once again rushed through to unseat Burrow in third again late in the third quarter. The Bengals had to settle for a 54-yard field goal. Volson has been on the rise since that Week 1 game, but the Pittsburgh defensive line once again took advantage of the rookie.

Joe Mixon: Mixon couldn’t find the week 9 magic again Sunday. Before Mixon left the game with a concussion in the third quarter, he could only muster 20 rushing yards on seven carries. An injury is never a player’s fault, but a chance for Mixon to build on his tremendous play for the bye week never got a chance to get going. We will monitor the status of Mixon in practice in the coming week.

Eli Appel: Apple has been boom or bust in its time in Cincinnati and unfortunately Sunday was its last. In the second quarter, Pittsburgh receiver George Pickens beat Apple deep for a touchdown that had the entire defensive backfield appearing confused as to who to cover. As the fourth quarter began, he was beaten again by Pickens on a go route to extend a drive in Pittsburgh. Apple also had some solid plays that day, but gave up too many big plays for a defense that Chidobe Awuzie sorely misses.

So, who helped and hurt themselves the most in this in your eyes? Let us know in the comments section!

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