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Loss to Bengals not the end

The Steelers loss to the Bengals on Sunday wasn't all that surprising.

The Bengals clearly are a good team, especially after beating the Ravens twice before taking out the Steelers 18-12 at Heinz Field and planting themselves firmly in first place of the AFC North.

The big surprise for me was the conciliatory and somber tone in the Steelers' locker room after the game.

"They're clearly the best team in the division," Ryan Clark said.

It sounded like the Steelers were eliminated from the playoffs after getting trounced on their home field.

Sunday's loss easily could have been a win. The defense was stout, even without Troy Polamalu for most of the day. The offense did move the ball, even without a running game.

One touchdown in the red zone instead of a field goal, and just maybe, the outcome would have been different.

But give the Bengals some props. They won. They outSteeler-ed the Steelers, as a Cincinnati newspaper headline screamed.

It's still not the end of the season, as our friends in Cleveland have been feeling since September.

The last I looked, the Steelers were tied for third place in the conference with a 6-3 record. And the Bengals' win didn't clinch them anything, except a seventh victory this season.

They lost running back Cedric Benson due to an injury and are expected to sign Larry Johnson, fresh off of being released by the Chiefs.

This race isn't over.

A lot can happen between now and the beginning of January. Maybe, the Bengals lose games at Minnesota and at San Diego. Maybe they don't.

The point is, losing to a 6-2 team in the middle of November shouldn't signal the end of a Super Bowl run.

When the Steelers won Super Bowl XL, they won it as a wild card. They lost the division that year to the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals won a 38-31 game in December, and the Steelers were facing long odds to make the playoffs.

They didn't lose again.

That's not to say the Steelers will win their next seven games, but with a relatively easy schedule, it's not out of reason, either.

This loss will get the Steelers to focus again. After convincing performances against the Vikings and Broncos, getting knocked back to reality isn't such a bad thing.

And a get-well game against the Chiefs can get those warm and fuzzy feelings going again.

Just don't think all's lost after a loss to the Bengals.

Things can work out just fine, especially if history repeats itself.


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