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fordfixer
11-15-2009, 02:49 AM
Head to Head: Bengals RB Cedric Benson vs. Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall
A closer look at the game within the game
Sunday, November 15, 2009
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


There aren't many running backs in the National Football League who have gained more yards the past five games than Rashard Mendenhall. But one of them is Cincinnati's Cedric Benson, who is starting to perform Jerome Bettis-like feats for the Bengals.

Mendenhall has vaulted to No. 11 among the league's rushing leaders with a torrid five-game roll that began the week after the Steelers had their eight-game winning streak in Paul Brown Stadium snapped by the Bengals. He did not play in the 23-20 loss in Cincinnati because he was being punished for not knowing his practice assignments during the week.

Since then, he has been punishing the opposition.

"He's making big plays happen in a hurry," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said.

Today, Mendenhall will be featured in a classic running backs duel with Benson -- two of the hottest runners in the NFL facing the top two rush defenses in the league.

"He's running like a mad man right now," safety Tyrone Carter said of Benson.

In five games as a starter, Mendenhall has rushed for 528 yards on 93 carries, an average of 105.6 yards per game. In that time, only three backs have rushed for more yards than Mendenhall -- Tennessee's Chris Johnson (608), Carolina's DeAngelo Williams (588) and Benson (544).

What's more, Mendenhall has seven runs of 20 yards or longer this season, tying him with Benson and Atlanta's Michael Turner for third most in the NFL.

There is only one back among the top 35 rushers in the league who has a better yards-per-carry average than Mendenhall (5.73), and that's Johnson (6.7). Mendenhall's average was helped by runs of 18, 24, 28 and 36 yards in Monday night's victory in Denver.

Now he gets to face the NFL's No. 2 rush defense in the Bengals, who have allowed an average of 83.9 yards rushing per game. The Steelers (102) and Cleveland Browns (146) are the only teams to have more than 100 yards rushing against the Bengals this season.

The Steelers have the league's top rush defense (70.4 yards per game) and haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher in their past 26 regular-season games (30 counting playoffs), the second longest streak in the NFL behind the Minnesota Vikings (31). And the list of backs they've stopped this year already includes Johnson and Peterson, two of the top three rushers in the league.

Benson had the most rushing yards against them this season when he ran for 76 yards on 16 carries and scored on a 23-yard run in the first meeting. He has rushed for over 100 yards in three of his last four games.

Curiously, the Bengals have not had a running back gain more than 100 yards against the Steelers since Rudi Johnson in October 2004, a span of 11 games.

"Streaks are made to be broken; records are made to be broken," Benson said. "Why not be the guy to do it? So, yeah, it's somewhat of a motivation for me. But this whole season has been a motivation for me."

Benson was originally drafted fourth overall by the Chicago Bears in 2005, but was released before the start of training camp in 2008. The Bengals signed him on Sept. 30, 2008, after Johnson was released in training camp, Chris Perry was beset with fumble problems and Kenny Watson was ineffective because of injuries.



Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09319/10 ... z0WuMb4dIC (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09319/1013600-66.stm#ixzz0WuMb4dIC)

jj28west
11-15-2009, 11:08 AM
Benson scares me. Other then a Adrian P. in Minnisota I have seen few others running as hard this year evey game. Maybe we should put 8 in the box to shut him down early? If he gets going then this will only make Carson more effective.

stlrz d
11-15-2009, 01:13 PM
Benson scares me. Other then a Adrian P. in Minnisota I have seen few others running as hard this year evey game. Maybe we should put 8 in the box to shut him down early? If he gets going then this will only make Carson more effective.

Bah, he had 76 yards against us in the first meeting and we didn't have Troy.