Steelers Look For Season Sweep Over Bengals Sunday Night
Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial
|Sunday, December 02, 2007
By Eddie Griffin
Steelers Fever Columnist
After an ugly win over the Dolphins on Monday night, the Steelers look to stay on top of the AFC North when they take on division rival Cincinnati in a primetime clash on Sunday night.
Monday night's game was scoreless for 59 minutes and 43 seconds, as the teams battled through terrible weather and field conditions, but Jeff Reed's field goal in the final moments handed Pittsburgh a 3-0 win, to improve the Steelers to 8-3 and keep Miami winless.
Pittsburgh enters Week 13 with a one-game lead over the surprising Browns in the division, and they are one game behind Indianapolis for the second seed (and a first-round bye in the playoffs) in the AFC.
Things are a little different for the Bengals, who are 4-7 and all but out of the running for the playoffs. But, they can still play spoiler, and would love nothing more than to derail the ambitions of one of their biggest rivals.
Will they pull off the road win and help out their Ohio rival? Or will the Steelers be able to triumph and head into their big game at New England with a lot of momentum?
Looking at the Bengals
Cincinnati improved to 4-7 with a 35-6 demolition of the Tennessee Titans last Sunday. Carson Palmer shredded the Tennessee defense, going 32 of 38 for 283 yards and three touchdowns, all three to Chad Johnson, who had a monster game as well, catching 12 passes for 103 yards.
The Bengals have the league's sixth-best offense, putting up 370.3 yards per game. While Palmer has had a big season (3,076 yards, 21 TD), the ground game has been up and down, though Rudi Johnson is healthy now.
Defense has been their Achilles' heel, and more specifically, numerous injuries on the defensive side of the ball. The Bengals defense is, at present, ranked near the bottom of the league. But, with the performance they put in to shut down the Tennessee offense, they may be putting all of those woes behind them.
The Last Time They Met...
The two teams squared off at Paul Brown Stadium in Week 8, and the afternoon belonged to the Steelers, who walked away with a 24-13 victory.
Thanks to two touchdown passes from Ben Roethlisberger to Hines Ward and a touchdown run by Willie Parker, Pittsburgh led 21-6 at halftime, and even though the Bengals tried to make a comeback in the second half, it was a pretty comfortable for the Steelers, who improved to 5-2 and dropped the Bengals to 2-5.
Big Ben was 19 of 28 for 230 yards, while Parker continued his recent run of success against the Bengals, rushing for 126 yards and a score on 22 carries.
Keys to Success
In Pittsburgh's 24-13 win over Cincy in October, the Steelers dominated from the outset and strolled to a comfortable win by controlling possession, being efficient and balanced on offense (390 yards, and limiting Cincinnati's production on offense (296 yards).
So, the key to success is simple -- do it again.
What We'll See
Hopefully the game won't be as brutal as Monday's night's contest. But, given what the weather forecast has in store for Sunday, we can't get too excited just yet. Conditions might not be favorable once again, due to the high chances for rain or freezing rain. But, weather forecasts aren't always right, so we'll just have to see how things look come gametime.
Cincinnati has won the last two games in Pittsburgh, so you can throw out their below .500 record -- they won't go quietly, even if they get down early.
It won't be easy, but if the Steelers can replicate their success in the Week 8 win, and get a little help from the weather, they'll have a season sweep over the Bengals, remain unbeaten in divisional play, and a 9-3 record heading into a pivotal trip to Foxboro.