“We got embarrassed,” Boyd said. “Straight like that. It sucks.”
What Boyd could tolerate, he said, were close losses like the one-possession defeats in Week 1 and Week 3. But there’s too much pride to have performances like the one at Heinz Field, where Pittsburgh scored 27 unanswered points and won the ninth straight game over Cincinnati, its longest winning streak in the series’ 100-game history.
And after hopes that things would be different under first-year coach Zac Taylor, the reality is the Bengals are one of six winless teams in the NFL.
“We didn’t expect to be an 0-4 team, but that’s what we are right now,” Taylor said. “There’s no excuses we can make.”
The Steelers (1-3) were one of those teams entering Monday night. They were led by backup quarterback Mason Rudolph, who was making his second career start as Ben Roethlisberger was placed on injured reserve with an elbow injury.
And after Cincinnati took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter, Pittsburgh was dominant. Rudolph was 24-of-28 passing for 229 yards and two touchdowns, while Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was sacked eight times and pressured on 17 of his 44 dropbacks, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
Cincinnati is off to its worst start since the 2008 season, when the Bengals dropped eight games before finishing with a 4-11-1 record. Monday’s loss was the latest in a string of defeats for a franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game since the 1990-91 season.
The Bengals have dropped 13 of their past 15 overall games, a span that covers the firing of former coach Marvin Lewis. Taylor, who spent the past two years as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Rams, took his share of the blame for Cincinnati’s early struggles.
“To be quite honest, it starts with me,” Taylor said. “I’ve got to make sure the standard is higher than what it is right now because I haven’t done a good enough job and there’s certainly things that I’ve got to improve on.”
Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick was among the contingent who said he was embarrassed by the results. Just like after last week’s 21-17 loss at Buffalo, the eighth-year player out of Alabama had choice words for the team’s performance.
“We gotta get wins,” said Kirkpatrick, who had a coverage breakdown that led to a Steelers touchdown in the third quarter. “They don’t pay me to lose, you know what I’m saying? “That s— is unacceptable to me. I don’t know how everybody else feels about it, but you gotta feel a certain type of way.”
Taylor said the lack of success before his tenure hasn’t made an impact on this year’s team.
However, the winless start through the first quarter of the regular season will be a test of Cincinnati’s character, a self-examination that will continue on Sunday against winless Arizona (0-3-1).
When Taylor was asked if his goals for his first season are still attainable, he said at this point, the Bengals are just looking for a victory.
“Right now we don’t have that winning feeling,” Taylor said. “We’ve got to get that before we talk about anything else that goes on this season.”