In a prime-time spot against a fellow winless team, the Cincinnati Bengals barely looked like they should be playing on Thursday nights, let alone Monday night.
"At the end of the day, I can take the losing, but when you go out there and get embarrassed, Monday night, prime time. I have too much pride to go out there and showcase what we showcased," Boyd said, via The Associated Press.
The Cincy offensive line couldn't block a Twitter troll, not to mention Stephon Tuitt, T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, Bud Dupree, et al., allowing Andy Dalton to be sacked eight times and take 11 QB hits, both career highs. Even when he did have time to pass, the quarterback was often well off the mark, throwing behind targets far too frequently for a veteran passer. Dalton completed 21 of 37 passes for 171 yards and an INT. He generated a pathetic 7.2 QBR rating, his lowest since a 1.0 QBR stink bomb in Week 17, 2017.
"We didn't expect to be an 0-4 team, but that's where we're at right now," Taylor said. "There's no excuses we can make."
No excuses would help a Cincy squad that looked outclassed by a previously winless Steelers team. The pass rush rarely disrupted Mason Rudolph, the linebackers were lost at sea in coverage against running backs, and the secondary bust gave Pittsburgh an easy layup one of the few times Rudolph went deep.
It's bad enough to get swallowed up by the likes of San Francisco on a Sunday afternoon when much of the watching world has eyes elsewhere. It's a different feeling to get demolished in front of a national TV audience.
"Everyone's watching and you're trying to get a big win to show that you're not the team you were the first three weeks," Bengals linebacker Preston Brown said. "But we showed that we are that team, so we have to fight and show everybody that we can get better. If not, we're going to keep losing a lot of games."
In Week 1, the Bengals looked like they'd be feistier than expected, unleashing a barrage of exciting plays in a close loss to Seattle. Since then, they've looked like a kitten with the flu. Limp.
"In football, there's going to be ups and downs, there's going to be good plays and bad plays," cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick said. "But the most frustrating thing to me is losing."
There will likely be a lot more losing in 2019. Monday's failure was a reminder that it will be an uphill battle for Taylor's team in his first year guiding a squad that lacks talent and depth throughout the roster.