The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Steelers Refreshing Week 16 win over Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers
Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages
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The Cincinnati Bengals managed to bookend the Pittsburgh Steelers' forgettable three-game losing streak, providing the Black and Gold with their best two offensive performances in some time. The season sweep over the Bengals will help the Steelers when it comes to playoff seeding should it come to that.

But as frustrating as the past three weeks of Steelers football were, the refreshing nature of not just a win, but a dominant outcome over a division opponent will help calm the nerves of panic button-smashing Steelers fans across the globe.

Of course, this lone win only shines so much after the pitiful three games before it, so expectations should still be justifiably tempered until further notice. In the meantime, fans can enjoy the shine of this game in which Mason Rudolph nearly threw for 300 yards and found George Pickens on three massive plays downfield.

The Good: Mason Rudolph's Efficiency Within the Steelers Offense

2019 was a long time ago. That's the last time Mason Rudolph was entrusted as a true starter, though his most recent start came in 2021 in a tie at home against the Detroit Lions.

Rudolph has shown he can be serviceable in the past, though inconsistencies would plague the outcome of some games, as would bizarre injuries. Even after all that time, Rudolph had his supporters heading into this game, pondering that if he should have a solid performance he could keep the job.

Whether or not that happens, it's worth noting at least that Rudolph tossed a third of Kenny Pickett's season total in touchdowns and season-high in passing yards in this game alone.

Rudolph pushed the ball downfield, showing aggression within the play call as well as sound decision-making. While he wasn't perfect, he was certainly better than could be hoped for given the circumstances. George Pickens having a career day certainly helps.

He also showed critical awareness, both in the red zone scramble for a first down and to save a safety at the end of the game. He showed a toughness we missed with Mitchell Trubisky and a consistency we don't see enough of out Pickett.

Bonus Good: Defensive Takeaways

With the team down to absolute scraps at safety and inside linebacker, the Steelers forced three interceptions on Jake Browning and held Joe Mixon to under 30 yards rushing before the final drive began.

The defense had some slippery moments, but overall, was much improved against a division rival with which the coaching staff is quite familiar with. Credit to the staff for having guys like Eric Rowe and Myles Jack ready to go and contribute effectively in this game. Neither is athletically the player they once were, but both showed veteran instinct and resolve to be effective.