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After further review: 'No doubt about it'

CINCINNATI _ After further review …

The word after Steelers 16, Bengals 10 was the staff alterations on the other side of the ball had little if any impact on the defense.

"Our job is to go out there and stop teams and not allow them to score points and drive up and down the field," defensive back Patrick Peterson maintained.

But that's not to suggest the defense didn't notice or appreciate the offense possessing the ball the way it did, for 37:17 of the 60 minutes, and amassing the yards it had, a season-high 421 of them, on Sunday afternoon at Paycor Stadium.

"We didn't get out-gained," safety Damontae Kazee exclaimed.

That, indeed, was a first this season.

But the defense, too, had a little something to do with that.

The story, of course, was the offense. The changes on the staff, the changes in the preparation, the changes in the plan and the much-needed, much-improved performance of the offense throughout a game that ended up being deceptively close.

"I don't know if the score was reflective of how we were operating," head coach Mike Tomlin offered.

The story had to be and will continue to be the offense.

But the defense is beginning to author a story of its own.

The defense allowed season-low figures in total net yards (222), rushing yards (25), third-down conversions (2-for-10, 20 percent) and first downs (10), and matched the 10 points allowed on Oct. 8 against Baltimore as a season-best effort.

Yes, Jake Browning was at quarterback for the Bengals rather than Joe Burrow, just as Dorian Thompson-Robinson had been under center the previous week in Cleveland rather than Deshaun Watson.

Take a look at the best photos from the Week 12 game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium

But Peterson wasn't willing to accept any type of asterisk being attached to the work of a Steelers' defense that's beginning to consistently dominate as anticipated all along.

He's of the opinion the Steelers can play the type of defense they've played the last two weeks any time, anywhere and against anybody.

"No doubt about it," Peterson insisted. "It's the NFL at the end of the day. (The Browns and the Bengals) had enough trust in (Thompson-Robinson and Browning) to have them as a backup, to go in there if anything goes down.

"A lot of teams have problems, that's something they have to worry about. Our job is to go out and get a 'W.'"

The Steelers got one on Sunday, in part, because safety Trenton Thompson came up with an interception with the Steelers trailing, 7-3, in the third quarter and the Bengals threatening to add to the lead.

Yes, Browning threw the pass. But Thompson caught it, and Thompson was appearing for the third time in his career as a defensive player.

Thompson's rise from the practice squad to playing defensive snaps that matter has helped the Steelers survive the temporary absence of free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Elandon Roberts' ability to handle being the lone inside linebacker in the six-defensive backs "Dime" defense has helped keep the wheels from falling off without Cole Holcomb and Kwon Alexander.

Inside linebacker Mykal Walker has likewise stabilized the position, and he has been on the team since October 30th.

A lot of teams have problems.

The Steelers are solving the ones confronting them on defense as well as on offense.

The offense is still the story.

But the defense is nonetheless beginning to make a statement.

"I just feel like we found some continuity in the different packages that we're putting out there on the field," Peterson assessed. "Guys are trusting the system, guys are believing in one another, fighting for one another.

"And out there on the field it's showing."