The good, the bad and the ugly of Steelers win over Bengals without Matt Canada

  • Offense improved without Matt Canada
  • Defense not squeezing opportunities
  • Diontae Johnson's first quarter was tough to watch

Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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The Pittsburgh Steelers have a favorable schedule down the final stretch of the 2023 season, and without Matt Canada leading the offense, the team had to show against a division rival that it could take advantage of the situation. The biggest question, of course, is how different would the Steelers look with Mike Sullivan and Eddie Faulkner running the offense.

The answer gave vindication to Steelers fans everywhere. The Steelers dominated the Cincinnati Bengals in every regard except the scoreboard as Kenny Pickett, with assistance from Pat Freiermuth, had arguably the best play-p[er-play performance of his young NFL career. Without Canada, the Steelers surpassed the 400-yard mark for total offense for the first time in 58 games, the second-longest such streak in league history.

The Steelers did have offensive struggles of their own, with a Diontae Johnson dropped touchdown in the first quarter immediately followed by a Jaylen Warren fumble recovered by Cincinnati. Johnson drew the ire of a portion of the fanbase for that two-play sequence.

Further, the offense did only manage 16 points despite the 421 yards. Finishing drives was a problem for Pittsburgh which does give a slight hesitation in the celebration of the Steelers' new offensive proficiency. Yards are good, but points are much more important.

Defensively, the Steelers did allow a few head-scratching explosive plays, though they did manage to coral the Bengals offense as it goes forward without Joe Burrow. Jake Browning benefitted from some dumb luck in the contest, as two passes bounced off of Steelers defenders' hands into the hands of Ja'Marr Chase for crucial first downs.

The Steelers looked much closer to the preseason presentation that excited the fanbase before the Week 1 thrashing by San Francisco. This means there's much more good to be excited about, though the bad and ugly still crept in needing to be corrected down the stretch.