CINCINNATI — For one night, if not for a whole lot longer, the Bengals have become the Steelers. And the Steelers, bless ’em, have become the Bengals.
Where this reversal of fortune goes from here, who’s to say — but where it went Monday night was into the victory column for Cincinnati, a 20-10 defeat of their AFC North nemesis in front of 64,585 fans at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Steelers are 0-2, and 0-2 teams are in trouble. Since 1990, roughly 8 percent of the teams to start the season with two losses ended the season in the playoffs.
“We’re a frustrated group right now,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “We have work to do. We are going to embrace it and accept it, and understand that there is some misery that comes from the position we’re in right now.”
The Bengals put the Steelers in that position by winning the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and by being tougher — not just physically tougher, but mentally. The Steelers were the team that got pushed around because they were the weaker team. The softer team. The more Bengal-ly team, if we’re talking the luckless loser Bengals for most of the past 20 years and not the playoff teams of 2011 and ’12.