How the Cincinnati Bengals graded out in the Week 12 over Pittsburgh Steelers

Kelsey Conway
Cincinnati Enquirer

The Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) played their most complete game against the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5-1) on Sunday and it showed in their 41-10 win to take a 3-1 lead in the AFC North.

It was the best offensive performance the Bengals have played all season given their ability to run the ball effectively and how accurate Joe Burrow was. Defensively, they forced turnovers and were stout against the run.

Head coach Zac Taylor couldn't ask for a better performance from his team and Cincinnati appears to be hitting its stride with six games to play in the regular season.

"We feel like we're in a good spot, but we know the road is only going to get tougher from here," Taylor said on Monday.

Let's take a closer look at how the players graded out in the win: 

Offense

Good days for: Burrow, Tee Higgins, Jonah Williams

Burrow finished the day completing 20-of-24 passes for 190 yards and one touchdown. His passing yards don't jump off the screen but it was his accuracy that made it such a strong performance from Burrow.

In back-to-back weeks, Burrow has thrown for less than 200 yards and the Bengals have won each game. It's odd to think Cincinnati would be winning without Burrow needing to throw for over 300-plus yards every week. And that's exactly what makes Cincinnati such a dangerous team right now because they are finding ways to win without their best player needing to completely take over games.

Burrow earned a 91.9 overall grade from Pro Football Focus for his performance against the Steelers. In fact, both of Burrow's top performances from a PFF grading standpoint have come against Pittsburgh.

Higgins had yet to record a 100-yard receiving game this season. He changed that against the Steelers as he was Burrow's main target catching six passes for 114 yards and one touchdown. Pro Football Focus gave Higgins a 89.6 for his performance, his highest grade of the year. Perhaps this game will be the one to unleash Higgins in the Bengals' offense for the remainder of the year. 

Williams continues to have a breakout season and prove why he was worthy of being the No. 11 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Williams is Cincinnati's best offensive lineman and played like it against the Steelers. Typically, Williams is facing the opponents' best pass rusher and Williams is proving he can hold his own week in and out. Where Williams has made his biggest stride is in the run game where he graded out with the second-highest grade for the Bengals' offensive linemen behind only Quinton Spain, according to Pro Football Focus. Williams has allowed five sacks on the year. 

Defense

Good days for: Mike Hilton, Trey Hendrickson

Hilton's best game of the season came against his former team. In addition to his pick-six to put the game out of reach by halftime, he tackled well and was PFF's highest-graded player for Bengals in coverage with a 93.7 grade. 

Since the Bengals signed Hendrickson in free agency back in March, Hendrickson has proved he was more than worth the investment the Bengals made in when they brought him to Cincinnati. Hendrickson has recorded for 12 sacks this season and is coming off a seven-game stretch where he has tallied a sack in each performance. Over the last two weeks, Hendrickson earned his highest two grades from Pro Football Focus from a pass rushing metric with an 88.9 and 99.0.

Lowest-graded starters for the Bengals

Offense: Riley Reiff 

Reiff suffered an ankle injury against the Steelers and was limited in his play and was given a 60.5 grade for his overall performance.

Defense: Germaine Pratt 

Pratt was given the lowest graded score for tackling against the Steelers from Pro Football Focus and was credited with three missed tackles.