This was originally published in The Athletic...
There was a lot to admire in the way the Bengals almost won on Sunday. Andy Dalton coming up big, again, in the game’s closing moments. Alex Erickson setting up a touchdown drive with a key kick return near the end of the first half. A defense gutting its way through all sorts of carnage. Tyler Boyd making plays that, for him, are becoming almost routine.
But the result of their otherwise admirable effort was painfully, hauntingly familiar. The Bengals lost to the Steelers. Again. This time, blowing an opportunity to create some distance between themselves and their biggest rival, all while doing nothing to shed the narrative that when black and orange meets black and gold, the guys in striped helmets will always find a way to lose.
For all the things the Bengals did well on Sunday, they suffered their seventh straight defeat against the Steelers because their defensive front was a no show.
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