View Full Version : Game 9 Matchup: Steelers vs. Bengals

11-15-2009, 02:39 AM
Game 9 Matchup: Steelers vs. Bengals
Gerry Dulac breaks down the AFC North showdown
Sunday, November 15, 2009
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

When the Bengals have the ball: There is no mistaking the impact Carson Palmer's return to health has had. He has passed for 1,832 yards and 14 touchdowns with only 7 INTs and led the team to comeback or overtime victories against the Steelers, Browns and Ravens. But the offense has changed since 2005, going from a quick-strike, big-play attack to a play-action style that revolves around RB Cedric Benson. Still, Palmer's return to health has benefitted WR Chad Ochocinco, who is eighth in the AFC with 44 catches, 639 yards and five TDs. Ochocinco is always shadowed by CB Ike Taylor and has just one touchdown in his past eight games vs. the Steelers. Despite beginning the season with just one starter in the same position as 2008, the offensive line has allowed just three sacks in the past four games

When the Steelers have the ball: Do not forget that the Steelers dominated the first meeting for three quarters, only to surrender a 20-9 lead in the fourth. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has done a good job with the Bengals' defense, which is younger, more athletic and more aggressive with the likes of LBs Keith Rivers and Rey Maualuga to stop the run. That will be needed against RB Rashard Mendenhall. But Rivers (calf) is not expected to play. They like to use CBs Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph in press coverage and will focus their attention on stopping WR Santonio Holmes, who was held to just one catch in the first meeting. Joseph had a 30-yard interception return for touchdown in that game, but was also beaten on a 51-yard pass to Mike Wallace and on the play in which Limas Sweed dropped a deep pass in the end zone.

Keep your eye on
WR Andre Caldwell: He beat the Steelers and Ravens with touchdown catches in the final minute and has become a dependable target for Palmer. A third-round draft choice in 2008, Caldwell had a team-high six catches for 52 yards in the first meeting and is second on the team with 29 catches, 272 yards and three TDs. But his role will expand even more with the loss of WR Chris Henry (broken arm). Caldwell will become the No. 3 receiver behind Ochocinco and Laveranues Coles.

The Steelers have won five games in a row, the second longest winning streak in the league, and have not lost at home since Nov. 9, 2008, against the Indianapolis Colts, a span of 10 games, including playoffs. The Bengals ended an eight-game losing streak to the Steelers in Paul Brown Stadium with a 23-20 victory on Sept. 27, the first time coach Mike Tomlin has lost to the Bengals. The Bengals are 3-0 on the road and 4-0 in the AFC North this season.

To win, the Bengals must ...
1. Beware of Blitzburgh. The Steelers' defense has 18 sacks and 11 takeaways (three for TDs) during their five-game winning streak.

2. Be hard on Rashard. Mendenhall has seven runs of 20 yards or longer and has averaged 105.6 yards in his past five games as a starter.

3. Muddle the no-huddle. Have sacked Roethlisberger once in past four games. Can't allow him to get into a rhythm when he uses no-huddle.

To win, the Steelers must ...
1. Create tension for Benson. Benson had 76 yards against them in the first meeting -- the most they have allowed a back this season.

2. Pressure Palmer. Allowed Bengals' QB to dink and dunk his way down field on 85- and 71-yard scoring drives in fourth quarter of first meeting.

3. Get the ball over Hall. Bengals' cornerback has an INT in each of his past four games, but has been susceptible to big plays against the Steelers.

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