- Coley Harvey, ESPN Staff Writer
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An examination of four hot issues from the Bengals' 20-10 win over the Steelers:
1. Burfict blew up. After he suffered a thigh injury during a Week 1 loss at Chicago, there were questions as to whether Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict would be able to play eight days later when the Pittsburgh Steelers came to Paul Brown Stadium.
Not only did he play, but he silenced any doubters with a dominating performance. He finished with a team-high nine tackles and was among those who not only helped get consistent pressure on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger but also dropped back in coverage and assisted in giving Roethlisberger his share of passing woes.
2. Peko plows 'em. As the Bengals tried to shore up their Week 1 rushing woes and figure out a way to get more lanes for tailbacks BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard to run through, they tinkered in practices last week with a Jumbo offensive set that featured one of the biggest players on the roster. With plans to shelve H-back Orson Charles, Cincinnati turned to 307-pound defensive tackle Domata Peko. On Monday night, the Bengals occasionally used him as a lead blocker in the running game.
The Bengals didn't have a single negative rush when they ran behind him. Looks like it's time they keep letting Peko plow the defensive line.
3. Emotional Whitworth. Andrew Whitworth went through an offensive lineman's nightmare this preseason. After taking time in the offseason to have surgery to repair a bum knee, he was forced months later to have another procedure on the same leg weeks before his eighth NFL season was set to begin. Around the same time as the second procedure, the Pro Bowler was going through added difficulties with his other knee. It was as if anything that could to go wrong for the veteran did.
And then Monday night came. At long last, after missing the season opener due to a slow-moving rehab process, he was back on the field. His emotions were high. They almost got the best of him, as twice near the end of the game he was involved in altercations with the Steelers. That's not a bad thing. Said quarterback Andy Dalton: "Whit's a passionate guy. I love his heart, and it's good for him to be back out there."
4. TEs still get it done. Cincinnati's tight ends are still getting the job done in the pass-catching game. One week after hauling in a combined 10 receptions, they grabbed nine in the Week 2 victory. Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert continue to show how important it is for the Bengals to have such big and athletic players who can play in space. Two of the biggest catches they had Monday helped set up both Cincinnati touchdowns. Eifert's wide-open, 61-yard grab in the middle of the field came two plays before Bernard's 7-yard touchdown run. One play before Bernard's 27-yard touchdown reception, Gresham got the Bengals a first down when he flashed open on a screen just as Dalton was getting hit by an intense blitz.