Tim Benz: Airing of grievances as Steelers win over Bengals far from perfect | TribLIVE.com
Breakfast With Benz

Tim Benz: Airing of grievances as Steelers win over Bengals far from perfect

Tim Benz
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin speaks to the media during his weekly news conference Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019 at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

It was nice to finally write about some “Feats of Strength” after the Steelers finally secured their first win of 2019 Monday night over the Bengals, 27-3.

But as Mike Tomlin pointed out, it was far from perfect. We “air our grievances,” win or lose, at “Breakfast With Benz.”

And just because the Steelers avoided defeat for the first time this year, that doesn’t mean there was a lack of stuff to complain about.

Challenging challenges

Mike Tomlin has now lost 11 replay challenges in a row.

The one he blew on Monday night probably wasn’t worth the risk.

He fought the ruling of an offensive pass interference call against Johnny Holton. So all Tomlin would’ve yielded was saving his team 10 yards.

But the call against Holton was so bad, I would’ve challenged it, too.

I mean, c’mon!

I’m with Tomlin here. If that call doesn’t get overturned, what’s the point of the process? If no flag is thrown, no one thinks twice about reviewing this play as a challenged non-call.

The NFL is too flag happy. Replay has become too intrusive.

The league can put in as much objective language as it wants. But pass interference is still a subjective call.

And the refs still objectively stink.

So replay ain’t helping with any of that.

Where was Washington?

Many of us thought that James Washington was going to blossom once Mason Rudolph became the quarterback. After all, they had that great college connection, right?

So much for that idea. He only got one target Monday.

This was supposed to be a breakout season for Washington, yet he only has 88 yards on six catches.

Crummy conversions

Possession-down conversions are still haunting the Steelers. They were just 3-of-9 against the Bengals Monday.

On the season, offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner’s unit is just 12-of-44. That’s only a 27% success rate.

Only the Dolphins and Jets are worse.

The Steelers are also only 1-for-5 on fourth downs.

Ragged running

It’s a good thing the short passing game was so effective Monday night.

Because the conventional run game struggled again.

Jaylen Samuels and James Conner combined for 16 receptions, 140 yards, and one touchdown through the air.

But they combined for 68 yards on 20 attempts on the ground. Half of those yards were obtained on two carries. Conner had a 21-yard effort, and Samuels had 13-yarder.

Plus, Conner and Benny Snell got stopped on consecutive third- and fourth-down runs for no gain in the first quarter at the Cincinnati 42.

The Steelers are 29th in the NFL in rushing at 64.5 yards per game.

At some point that number needs to get better. Because, despite what Randy Fichtner may tell you, the short passes to the backs don’t always act as long handoffs.

Or else the Steelers would’ve tried that on those third and fourth downs.

Don’t do it again, Diontae

Diontae Johnson fumbled in the first quarter.

That turnover led to the only points of the game for the Bengals — a field goal. Thankfully for Johnson, the defense came up big for him and forced Cincinnati to go three-and-out.

Head coach Mike Tomlin had some advice for the rookie wide receiver, “Don’t fumble anymore.”

Ah. Sage wisdom, indeed, from the coach.

At least Johnson made up for his miscue later in the game.

Maybe Tomlin should also just tell him to score more touchdowns.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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