Tag:Bengals
Posted on: November 21, 2008 12:31 am
 

Back to the Basic

It seemed fitting, on the night that the Steelers organization honored defensive coordinator, Dick LeBeau for his 50th year in the NFL, that the game would finish the way that it did. 

As promised, it began to snow when the game started.  Two things that didn’t happen, the supposed mark on Hines Ward and a sack hungry defense having Bengals quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick on his back all night.  But as promised, fans were treated to classic Steelers football, both on offense and defense. 

It started out ugly and at first, we wondered if, given the past few weeks, if the Steelers would once again struggle through this one.  At first the running game was stifled and Ben came too close too many times to be intercepted.  Bengals had the lead, but they played for 60 minutes and through that time, they remembered the formula that was Steeler football. 

There would be 30 passes thrown and 37 rushing attempts, and albeit against a ravaged Bengals team, and despite themselves, the Steelers would end up controlling the ball, controlling the field and registering a decisive win against a division opponent.

How much more effective is the Steelers offense when they get Heath Miller involved in the game, and we were reminded with his four receptions that not only kept drives alive, but also registered the one passing touchdown to tie the game in the second quarter.  There would be drops by the wide receivers and there would be times where the Steelers would be their own worst enemy, an offensive pass interference call on Washington that negated a pass for great field position, and a rookie mistake on a punt by Limas Sweed, that turned the ball over to the Bengals, giving them great field position, really, really, really great field position. 

But we would see classic Ben Roethlisberger, behind an oline that gave him great protection in this game.  We would see the quarterback getting out of the pocket, using his feet to extend plays, to even rush for a touchdown.  This was the Roethlisberger we had gotten use to watching.  And as the air game got going, the run game would open up.  We would see more of Gary Russell this game, who would get the short yardage that the Steelers seemed to have been missing in the past few games.  Russell would also get one of two rushing touchdowns in the game.  Mewelde Moore was key in the second half to the Steelers maintaining control of the ball, when he was able to find the open holes and gain positive yards.   And in this offense, we wondered if Bruce Arians finally got it right, with the different play action, slants and screens. 

Of course, the defense continued to show why they are the number one defense in the league.  Although, they would only get to Fitzpatrick once, they would continue to stop the Bengals running game, keeping Cedric Benson to 35 yds total and covering the Bengals receivers only allow Fitzpatrick to connect for 17 out of 35 times.  And this time, it would be James Farrior who would lead the team on tackles, seeming to be there to stop the Bengals on important 3d and short plays.  The game was over, like last week, when Troy Polamalu came up with an interception that kept the Bengals from closing in on the 12 point spread. 

In the end, Ben would throw 15 for 30 for 243 yards with one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown.  The Steelers running division of Moore/Parker/Davis/Russell would accumulate 104 yards rushing.  Though they lost both Willie Parker and Santonio Holmes in the second half, they just improved and finished the game with the formula that they were known for.  Not bad for only three days off.
Posted on: November 20, 2008 9:16 am
 

Marked Man, Snowy Night and Hungry Defense

Rumor has it that Hines Ward is a marked man going into tonight’s game with the Cincinnati Bengals.  The reason, retribution for a season ending injury to the Bengals, Keith Rivers.  While the Bengals locker room may be salivating at thoughts of getting to Ward, the Steelers defense is absolutely drooling for the opportunity to sack Bengals quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, again and again and again. 

In their second matchup of the season, the Steelers will be looking for a repeat of the first, where the defense had gotten to and sacked Fitzpatrick, seven times their last meeting and an offense, minus Willie Parker, outscored the Bengals 38-10.  For both teams, it will have been a short week, both coming off of games that, well, kept the teams in the national sports headlines with slightly bizarre endings to both games.  But that week has come and gone.  One team, the Bengals, have nothing to lose and the Steelers, will be looking to maintain their lead for first in the AFC North. 

Tonight, in Pittsburgh, it will be snowing, at least that’s what they’re predicting.  Willie Parker will be back in the line up.  Last time, it was Mewelde Moore that ran for 120 yards with 2 rushing touchdowns.  Parker wants to go back to Steelers football, starting this game.  Last time, Roethlisberger threw for 216 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Last week, Ben showed what he was able to do when he actually practices a full week, throwing for 31-41 for 308 yards without an interception. 

This game should be a given for the Steelers, right?  The spread is for the Steelers at 11.5 points.   After all the Bengals are 1-8-1 with more then a suspect run defense, right?  Well, actually the Bengals have only allowed 2 100-yard rushers this season, even if they’ve allowed an average of 206 yds on the ground.   However, only those new to football write anything off as a given.  Bengals have won their last 2 of 3 meetings in Heinz Field.  And a team with nothing to lose but pride, is more dangerous then Michael Vicks pitbulls.   And no doubt that Chad Johnson or Chad Ocho Cinco (or whatever we’re calling him this week) along with T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chris Perry have kept the Bengals in each of their games this season.  The Steelers defense will be short two of their cornerbacks with Deshea Townsend and Bryant McFadden out for this game. 

Still, the Steelers are 3 for 3 in their last three Thursday night games.  Whereas the Bengals are suffering a massive amount of injuries and relying on backups, the Steelers are coming back healthy, just in time for the end of season push, which begins with the Bengals. 

It will be a good night for Steelers football. 
Posted on: October 20, 2008 4:02 am
 

Still On Top of the AFC North

There were three teams pulling for a Bengals win on Sunday, the Bengals, the Browns and the Ravens.  For the Bengals it would be a way to break their losing streak.  For the Browns and Ravens, a Steelers loss would tighten the gap in the AFC North.  Of course, no one was really expecting it could happen, but no one could blame them for hoping right?  At the end of the day though, the Steelers would dash any hopes and log a 38-10 win against the Bengals, registering their either straight win at Paul Brown Stadium. 

The win yesterday kept the Steelers atop the AFC North with a 5-1 record overall and 3-0 in the division.  But the win wasn’t a thing of beauty, in fact, for awhile, the game kind of left me scratching my head a bit.  After coming out strong the first quarter, taking the lead 10-0, they failed to capitalize on the momentum. 

Was it the play calling or the Bengals defense or overconfidence or a combination of all three that stopped the Steelers offensive momentum up until the 3d quarter?  No doubt that the Bengals defense stepped up, however, the play calling should have been adjusted when what was being tried wasn’t adjusted.  One would have to wonder if Bruce Arians actually watches game tapes prior to the game.  At least they adjusted at the half.

What seemed to have me screaming more at the television, as I watched the game was the coverage by the Steelers defense. Sorry, it doesn’t matter who the quarterback is, if you leave Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh with all kinds of room, they’re going to burn you.  When Ryan Fitzpatrick found his rhythm, that’s exactly what happened.  However, in the end, the Steelers defense stepped up when it mattered.  They would continue to show why they’re one of the top defenses in the league. 

So, by the end of the day, the Steelers would end up making a statement and putting any lingering questions to rest.   Ben Roethlisbergers shoulder is no longer an issue.  The Steelers haven’t skipped a beat in the running game with Mewelde Moore coming in for Willie ParkerLimas Sweed can actually make a catch. 

Now, if they just keep this momentum going.
Posted on: October 17, 2008 6:38 am
 

Never a Given

There are things that you can say are a given.  Crisp cool autumn mornings in Western PA and the Ohio valley at this time of year.  The brilliant changes of foliage that is associated with fall.  A congested parkway going into the city on a weekday morning.  A congested parkway leaving the city on a weekday evening.  However, if you were to say a Steelers win over the Cincinnati Bengals this coming Sunday is a given, you may want to rethink that. 

Yeah, I know the Bengals are 0-6 so far this season.  Don’t forget last year, when a winless Jets team broke their losing streak at home against the black and gold.  And last weekend should have shown football fans that the “any given Sunday” rule still applies.  Now, add to the fact that those who wear stripes (no, not the refs) are division rivals and always give the Steelers a game.  Remember though, with the exception of last season, even at their worse, the Dolphins were able to hand Tom Brady and the Patriots at least one loss.  Nothings a given in this league.

I know, I know, Roethlisberger is 10-0 in Ohio and has yet to lose in Paul Brown Stadium.  I know, he does better against the Bengals in Ohio then he does in Pittsburgh.  I know, I know the Bengals are last in offense and ranked 28th in rushing defense.  However, they are fourth in passing defense, right behind the Steelers.  Yeah, I know, Carson Palmer is out and Ryan Fitzpatrick will be starting under center.  Just the perfect combination for a trap game. 

Steelers offense are returning after the bye, relatively healthy, with the exception of Willie Parker and Carey Davis.  However, Mewelde Moore is expected to start in his place and has shown that the Steelers do have the depth at the running back position.  Given the Bengals rushing defense, it should prove no problem for the Steelers to have a big day on the ground.  I said should, not a guarantee though.   Steelers fans may see rookie wide receiver Limas Sweed play this week as the fourth wide out, in place of an injured Dallas Baker.

Dick LeBeau’s defense hasn’t skipped a beat, despite Brett Keisel and Casey Hampton being out.  Keisel will return for this game, though Hampton is still questionable.  So physically this team should have no issues.

The Steelers seem to be returning mentally, well motivated and not looking past this game.  At least the players aren’t taking anything for granted and are expecting for the Bengals to give them a fight.  Guess the only question now is, is Bruce Arians going to continue to go with the flow that we’ve seen in the last 6 quarters that the Steelers played or will he go back to the old run, run, pass play calling that could make it easier for the Bengals defense to stop the Steelers offense?  We’ll see on Sunday.
Posted on: September 3, 2008 8:08 pm
 

2008-09 NFL Projections-AFC North - I'm a Homer

If you walked into my cubicle the first thing that you would see would be the Terrible Towel and a Steelers Pennant hanging from the wall.  There are a few things on my desk that denote I'm a Steelers fan also, a Steelers coffee mug, my Steelers pen and then my computer has my Steelers background on it. 

So as I finish up the AFC predictions, this one may seem like a homer pick and I know that there may be alot of gnashing of the teeth on this, calling me bias, perhaps names worse.  So yes, I do have the Steelers projected to win the AFC North.  In the end, I see the AFC North pretty much as last year, however, no tie breaker needed between the Steelers and the Browns.

AFC North.

#4) Baltimore Ravens - Joe Flacco is the starter.  A rookie quarterback in a division that promises to sport the leagues top defense again, and the Ravens will have to meet them twice.  If the Ravens were only a quarterback away from being very good again, then they wouldn't have been 5-11 last year.  No doubt that the addition of Flacco to the team was a major plus, but right now a rookie learning a new team under a new coach.  Baltimore's defense, still very good but have to wonder about their ability to stay healthy.  Don't see this defense taking the Ravens to the superbowl this year.

#3) Cincinnati Bengals - Okay so they have their troubles on defense, but they still have an offense.  Now if only they could sync up.  Carson Palmers too good of a quarterback to not have a good offense. 

#2) Cleveland Browns - Up and coming team, the glamour pick for this years AFC North division winner.  This year they have a schedule almost as difficult as the Pittsburgh Steelers, plus they haven't gotten past the Steelers since 2003.  Derek Anderson has proven to be a good quarterback for the Browns and they did make some good acquisitions on defense.  Question is are they good enough.  Now the Browns will be heading into their first game of the year a little banged up.  Browns will once again barely miss a wild card to the Buffalo Bills this year. 

#1) Pittsburgh Steelers - For the Browns to take the division, they'll have to somehow beat the Steelers.  The major thorn in the Steelers side last year when playing the Browns was Joshua Cribbs, not Derek Anderson.  Steelers return with promises of having a top rated defense again.  Despite the issue with the oline last year, Ben Roethlisberger was within the top 3 to top 5 quarterbacks in the league last year, breaking Terry Bradshaws record.  The offense lost very little (please don't talk to me about Alan Faneca, he was part of the porous oline last year), but gain what may be quite a bit in the wide receiver and rushing fields.  On defense, Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark and Aaron Smith will be back and healthy.  Hopefully Dick LeBeau will gag Anthony Smith and help settle the young man down. 

AFC North Division Champions - Pittsburgh Steelers
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com