CINCINNATI -- Bengals coach Zac Taylor dismissed the notion that Sunday's 16-10 loss to the Steelers could be pinned on running back Joe Mixon.

Mixon was held to just 16 yards on eight carries. The lack of production came in the team's third straight defeat and first game with quarterback Jake Browning playing in place of the injured Joe Burrow, who is out for the season with a torn ligament in his right wrist.

Taylor defended his veteran running back after he was asked about his confidence level in Mixon.

"This has nothing to do with Joe Mixon," Taylor said. "This is the entirety of the unit coming together.

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"Don't make this about one person. It's not like there were missed opportunities there from what I could see. He continues to run hard and he's given us what we needed this season."

Mixon finished with -16 rush yards over expectation, per NFL Next Gen Stats, his second-worst total in that category this season. In the team's Week 9 win over Buffalo, Mixon rushed for 20 yards fewer than what the NFL Next Gen model projected for his carries.

Cincinnati's offense managed just one touchdown against the Steelers (7-4), who won their first game since firing offensive coordinator Matt Canada.

Browning was 19-of-26 passing for 227 yards, one touchdown and one interception in his first career NFL start. Mixon had two receptions for 44 yards in the loss.

Last week, Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said consistency is something he'd like to see from the rushing attack.

"It's hard to continue to hand it off if you do it once or twice and there's nothing," Callahan said last week. "But then you'll pop one for 10 or 12 yards. "So, consistency would be the biggest factor in that."

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said stopping Mixon was a focal point given Cincinnati's quarterback change.

"It really puts an emphasis on the run game," said Tomlin, who praised Pittsburgh's stout run defense for a second straight week after allowing 96 rushing yards to Cleveland a week earlier. "We were really committed to it and I'm appreciative of that."

Cincinnati will allow its quarterback to audible in or out of a run play depending on the defensive formation presented before the snap. Browning said he did that correctly in each situation against Pittsburgh.

Browning said a one-dimensional offense works in the defense's favor, but he also refused to pin blame for Sunday's loss on the ground game.

"Yes, it does make it difficult, but that's not really my area of focus," Browning said. "I need to focus on being better in the pass game."

Mixon's 16 total rushing yards were his lowest total since Week 7 of the 2019 season, when he had two yards in a 27-17 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

All of Mixon's carries on Sunday came on first or second down. Four yards was his longest carry and half of his rushes were for one yard.

Browning said that generally speaking, being ineffective on first downs makes it hard for the offense to succeed, particularly in the AFC North.

"I think anytime you get behind the sticks, especially in this division with all the really good defenses and really good pass rushers, it's going to be difficult," Browning said.

This offseason, Mixon restructured his contract to give the Bengals greater financial flexibility. The 2021 Pro Bowler's salary cap charge is $8.5 million for this season, according to the Roster Management System.

This year, Mixon ranks 21st in expected points added per carry among qualifying running backs, per NFL Next Gen Stats. On the season, a career-high 41.9% of Mixon's carries have surpassed what was projected. That number is also slightly better than the league average of 38.4% among running backs that have at least 100 carries this season.

But on Sunday, neither Mixon nor the Bengals offense could muster much of anything in a third consecutive loss.

Said Bengals offensive tackle Orlando Brown: "They did a good job being better than us today."