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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals Preview

November 13, 2009 By: Admin Category: Pre-Game Analyses

This week’s Steelers-Bengals game is right up there with some of the other great battles in sports history; Ali vs. Frazier, Lakers vs. Celtics, Tyson vs. Holyfield’s ear, Yankees vs. Red Sox, Ike vs. Tina.  Okay, maybe not.  But it should still be a very good game.

The Steelers and Bengals find themselves tied at the top of the AFC North with identical 6-2 records.  However, the Bengals have the advantage in the tie-breakers so far.  The Bengals defeated the Steelers in their first meeting this season.  The Bengals also have a better record within the division (4-0), having swept the Baltimore Ravens already, while the Steelers (1-1) have not faced the Ravens yet.

With that in mind, Sunday’s game becomes a must-win for the Steelers.

Personally, I have no doubt that the Steelers are going to beat the Bengals.  Call me a doubter, but I just don’t think the Bengals are in the Steelers’ class, despite their earlier win.


If you’ll recall the Steelers game against the Bengals earlier this season, you’ll remember that it took a 4th quarter miracle by the Bengals (actually, it was a 4th quarter meltdown by the Steelers) to win the game.

The Steelers dominated the Bengals in every way in that game.  They held Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer to a mere 183 yards passing.  Meanwhile, Big Ben threw for almost 300 yards and completed passes to 8 different receivers, including 102 yards to rookie receiver Mike Wallace.

Willie Parker rushed for 93 yards on 25 carries, as Rashard Mendenhall sat out due to being unprepared in practice.

The Steelers held the bengals to a mere 9 points through 3 quarters before surrendering 2 late touchdowns during a 4th quarter meltdown.

The Steelers domination was so complete that they held the ball a full 10 minutes more than the Bengals did during the course of the game.

Yet, a missed field goal by Jeff Reed combined with a dropped TD pass by Limas Sweed resulted in a 3 point loss in a game that the Steelers should have won.

Both teams remember what happened in the first game.  The Bengals know that they got beat like a drum, despite what the final scoreboard said.  The Steelers know that they lost a game that was within their grasp.

But that was then, and this is now.  In this game, the Bengals are going to find that they are facing a much improved Steelers team.

The Steelers are on a roll, having won 5 games in a row.  Troy Polamalu is back, having missed the first game against the Bengals due to injury.  Polamalu’s return seems to have ended the Steelers string of 4th quarter meltdowns.  The Steelers defense is now playing like the unit that we all know and love.

But perhaps the biggest difference in this game will be the Steelers’ running back.  The Bengals faced Willie Parker in the first game, and he almost gained 100 yards on them.  This time, the Bengals will be facing Rashard Mendenhall.  They’ve never faced Mendenhall, but I think they are going to find that he’s a much greater challenge than Parker is.

Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall

Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall

Surely the Bengals watched Mendenhall run for 155 yards on Monday Night Football.  They know that they are in for a tough game.

They also know that the rookie wide receiver who torched them for over 100 yards the first time they faced him has gotten even better.  Their defensive backs can’t be looking forward to facing Mike Wallace again.

Those are some of the reasons why I am sure that the Steelers are going to win this game.  If the Bengals were honest, they’d admit that those are exactly the same reasons why they know that they are going to lose.


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Goodbye Ernster, hello Berger (again)

November 25, 2008 By: Admin Category: Players

Today, the Steelers released punter Paul Ernster (again) and brought back punter Mitch Berger (again). Is it just me, or is this getting to be a bit redundant?

Mitch Berger beat out Ernster during training camp, but then developed gimpy hamstrings. When Mike Tomlin finally got tired of seeing Berger limp around the field, he released him and brought in Ernster. Ernster made the most of his opportunity by averaging a whopping 31.6 yards per punt. For those of you who have been living on another planet, that ain’t good.

During the Steelers’ game against the Bengals, Ernster punted 5 times for an average of 28.4 yards. His shortest punt during that game traveled only 23 yards. I’ve never even punted a ball before, and I could punt it farther than that. To put it into perspective just how bad Ernster was, the average punting distance for the top 3 finishers in the 12-13 year old girls division of the 2008 Pass, Punt, & Kick competition was 31.2 yards. That’s right, 31.2 yards. That’s almost 3 yards longer than Ernster averaged in an actual NFL game. Heck, Ernster’s average for the season was only 31.6 yards per punt. Where are the 12 year old girls when you need them?

Steelers' next punter

Steelers' next punter

But let’s look at the bright side (if you can call it that). Ernster only had two punts returned for a total of 4 yards during his time with the Steelers. That’s pretty good, right? Well, not really. Most of Ernster’s punts went off the side of his foot and traveled such a short distance that there were rarely opposing punt returners anywhere near the vicinity of the ball.

So the Steelers cut the punter who can’t punt it farther than adolescent girls, in favor of the punter who has 2 gimpy hamstrings. Wow, I feel more comfortable already.

What I don’t understand is how Berger ended up with 2 pulled hamstrings in the first place. After all, the average punter probably spends a total of about 48 seconds on the field during the average NFL game. So what does he do during the rest of the game? My guess would have been “stretch his hamstrings”, but Berger disproves that theory.

But at least Berger averaged a more respectable 41.9 yards per punt this season. That’s more than 10 yards better than Ernster. He’s got my vote already.

For those of you who are wondering, Berger’s punting average would have earned him 2nd place in the 14-15 year old girls Pass, Punt & Kick division. Believe it or not Steelers fans, that is a step in the right direction.

Please get well soon Dan Sepulveda. Otherwise, the Steelers may have to start scouting 12 year old girls.

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Santonio Holmes got JACKED UP!!!!

November 21, 2008 By: Admin Category: Players

I hate to spotlight a vicious hit on a steelers player. I’d much rather show you a video of Hines Ward knocking out a defensive back or linebacker with a thunderous block. But let’s face it, Santonio Holmes got JACKED UP! Bengals’ safety Chris Crocker put a hit on him that left him with legs like rubber bands. The hit was so hard that I actually felt it through the TV.

Here is one more look at the hit.

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Ocho Cinco deactivated for tonight

November 20, 2008 By: Admin Category: Players

According to, wide receiver Chad Johnson has been deactivated for tonight’s game against the Steelers.  Johnson apparently violated a team rule.  No specifics have been released as to why Ocho Cinco was deactivated.

according to Bengals’ radio play-by-play man Brad Johansen, Ocho Cinco said that he “begged and begged” Bengals’ coach Marvin Lewis not to sit him after he overslept an 8:30 p.m. meeting.

The Bengals are looking at starting Chris Henry or Glen Holt in place of Johnson.

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Steelers vs. Bengals Key Match-ups

November 20, 2008 By: Admin Category: Pre-Game Analyses

Before reading this week’s key match-ups, please read my Steelers-Bengals Preview.  Also, you may want to read our Top 10 Reasons Pittsburgh is Better Than Cincinnati.

This Thursday, the Steelers will face their AFC North rivals the Cincinnati Bengals on NFL Network. While the two teams sit at opposite ends of the AFC North standings, Cincinnati has won 2 of the last 3 games in Pittsburgh.

These are the match-ups that I believe will have the highest likelihood of impacting the outcome of the game.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger vs. Bengals defense

Big Ben has been sacked quite a bit this season. Teams have learned that Ben is susceptible to the all-out blitz. Fortunately, the Bengals’ blitz is one of the weakest in the NFL. The Bengal’s defense only has 11 sacks this season. That’s one fewer than Steelers’ linebacker James Harrison has by himself. The Bengals didn’t sack Big Ben once in their meeting earlier this year. Expect more of the same this time.

When Roethlisberger is given time to find his targets, he can pick any defense apart. He passed for over 300 yards last week against a San Diego Chargers defense that is much better than the Bengals’. Advantage: Steelers.

Steelers linebacker James Harrison vs. Bengals tackle Anthony Collins

Bengals’ starting left tackle Levi Jones is out with a back injury. His backup, rookie Anthony Collins, gets the unenviable task of trying to block Pro Bowl LB James Harrison. This will be Collins’ first NFL start. Talk about a baptism in fire. Last time the Steelers met the Bengals, Harrison abused starter Levi Jones for 2 sacks. Nine hundred sacks against Collins may be attainable. By the end of this game, Collins should be curled up in a fetal position crying uncontrollably. Welcome to the NFL, rookie. Advantage: Steelers.

Steelers Defensive End Brett Keisel vs. Bengals guard Nate Livings

The entire left side of the Bengals’ offensive line has been decimated by injuries. Not only is left tackle Levi Jones out with an injury. Starting left guard Andrew Whitworth is also out with an ankle injury. Number 2 left guard Scott Kooistra is also out with a knee injury. So third string guard Nate Livings gets to make his first NFL start against the league’s #1 defense. Let’s see, a starter on the #1 defense against a third stringer on the league’s worst offense. You do the math. Advantage: Steelers.

Dick LeBeau vs. Bengals Offensive Coordinator Bob Bratkowski

Not only is Bengals’ Offensive Coordinator Bob Bratkowski going to have to run his offense without the left side of his offensive line, he’s also going to have to do it against the league’s top ranked defense. Bratkowski’s first thought will be to try establishing the run by sending his top running back, Cedric Benson, against the Steelers’ defense that is rated #1 against the run. Yeah, good luck with that. Bratkowski’s second thought will be to try focusing on the pass, and using Ryan Fitzpatrick against the Steelers’ defense that is also #1 against the pass. Hmmm, that option isn’t much better than the first one. Is suicide an option?

Steelers Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau loves playing against the team that once fired him. Early in the first quarter he should have Bratkowski in check. By the end of the first half, it should be checkmate. Advantage: Steelers.

Heath Miller vs. Chris Crocker.

It looks like Heath Miller will be playing this week. Last week, QB Ben Roethlisberger threw 6 passes to backup tight end Matt Spaeth. Hopefully, Big Ben and Steelers Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians have finally realized that the tight end can be a valuable weapon if they actually throw to him. If they do, Heath Miller will find himself going against Bengals’ safety Chris Crocker. Crocker will be starting at safety in place of injured starter Chinedum Ndukwe (foot injury).

Heath Miller is one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Against a backup, he should have a good game. That’s a nice way to come back from an injury. Advantage: Steelers.

Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden DeShea Townsend William Gay vs. T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Ocho Cinco.

Despite the difficulties that the Bengals have had establishing their passing game this year, these are two of the most dangerous receivers in the NFL. Few tandems are as talented. Ike Taylor has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success against Ocho Cinco during his career. However, Gay will have his hands full with T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Houshmandzadeh leads the league in receptions, and this will only be Gay’s second start. This may be the best match-up of the game. Advantage: Bengals.

Update:  Ocho Cinco won’t play tonight.  Advantage: Neither.

NT Casey Hampton vs. C Eric Ghiaciuc

Bengals’ center Eric Ghiaciuc struggles against large nose tackles. Casey Hampton is a very big, Pro Bowl nose tackle. Casey should eat him alive. Ummm, that was just a figure of speech, Big Snack. We don’t mean it literally. The NFL frowns upon cannibalism. Advantage: Steelers.

We anticipate the Steelers should have a commanding lead by halftime. Backup quarterback Byron Leftwich should see a significant amount of playing time in the second half to avoid unnecessary injury to Big Ben.

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