Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals' smooth season just got a lot more complicated. The Steelers controlled the action against the Bengals in a 33-20 win, but it was Dalton's thumb injury that was the biggest story. Here's what we learned:
- Marvin Lewis said Andy Dalton will miss next week's game with his thumb injury as the Bengals wait for Dalton's bone to heal. Dalton was seen with a cast on his hand. That puts Cincinnati's playoff positioning hopes on AJ McCarron. The Alabama product made a number of sharp throws on the way to 280 yards on 32 attempts, but he also threw two killer interceptions. One was a pick six that came after McCarron didn't identify a blitz and panicked a throw under pressure.
- Ben Roethlisberger set the tone early by throwing a 31-yard bomb to Markus Wheaton on third-and-1 on the first drive of the game. He hit a number of third-and-long plays early as the Steelers built a lead they would never relinquish. The Bengals' defense did a good job most of the day limiting damage -- Cincinnati outgained Pittsburgh 385-354 -- but Pittsburgh mostly played mistake-free football.
It felt like offensive coordinator Todd Haley played things a little safer once Dalton was out.
- The Steelers, now 8-5, kept pace in the fiery AFC wild-card race. They also now have an outside chance of catching the 10-3 Bengals in the AFC North if McCarron can't keep the ship afloat.
- Marvin Lewis deserves grief for kicking a field goal down 26-10 with just over 10 minutes remaining. The Bengals had the ball inside the 10-yard line and played it far too conservatively.
- A.J. Green put up 132 yards and a score on six catches in the losing effort. He's so good that we expect 1,400-yard seasons and people barely notice.