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Published: Sunday, November 24, 2019 @ 2:30 PM
Updated: Sunday, November 24, 2019 @ 6:05 PM
CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor recently said this is the toughest stretch his team will go through in the next 20 years.
It’s officially never been any worse.
The Bengals lost 16-10 to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium to fall to 0-11 and set a record for the worst start in franchise history. The 1993 Bengals went 0-10 before winning their first game. The Bengals have lost 13 straight games dating back to last season, also the worst in franchise history.
Cincinnati had chances to get Taylor his first win as head coach, but the Bengals turned the ball over twice in the fourth quarter and the Steelers finished off the their 10th straight victory in the series with the Bengals while using their third-string quarterback.
With his team trailing 7-3, Devlin Hodges replaced Mason Rudolph on the second drive of the third quarter and almost immediately gave Pittsburgh a lead it wouldn’t lose when he connected with James Washington on a 79-yard touchdown pass. Washington caught the ball around the 40-yard line and stiff-armed B.W. Webb to clear an open lane to the end zone for the 10-7 lead.
Randy Bullock tied the game on a 27-yard field goal later in the quarter, but Pittsburgh regained the advantage on a 47-yarder from Chris Boswell with 12:04 left and the Steelers’ defense came up with a turnover to prevent the Bengals from answering. Tyler Boyd fumbled at the end of a 22-yard catch, and Minkah Fitzpatrick recovered at the 6-yard line.
Finley fumbled on a sack on the Bengals’ last drive of the day to seal the game for Pittsburgh just before the two-minute warning. He has five turnovers in three games.
Joe Mixon finished with 79 yards on 18 carries, but Boyd was the big playmaker Sunday before his fumble. Six days after complaining he wasn’t getting enough passes thrown his way, Boyd recorded his first 100-yard receiving performance since Week 8 of the 2018 season.
The Pittsburgh native came up with a catch on a 47-yard pass from Ryan Finley at the first-half two-minute warning, then finished off the drive with a 15-yard touchdown reception the next play to give the Bengals a 7-3 lead going into halftime. The Bengals had just 27 yards of offense on 14 plays before that three-play, 69-yard scoring drive.
Both teams went three-and-out on their first drive of the second half, and Pittsburgh replaced Rudolph with Hodges the next series. Rudolph, who had been starting in place of injured starter Ben Roethlisberger but struggled in a loss to Cleveland last week, completed eight of 16 passes for 85 yards with one interception and a quarterback rating of 39.8.
Cincinnati’s defense held Pittsburgh to three points on two trips to the red zone in the first half, as Boswell’s 26-yard field goal gave the Steelers a 3-0 lead with 3:21 left in the second quarter after Darqueze Dennard broke up a third-down pass in the end zone. The Bengals took the lead on the next possession.