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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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10 reasons to feel optimistic about the Steelers

October 01, 2009 By: Admin Category: Uncategorized

October 1, 2009
By Donald Starver

The Steelers have lost two games in a row, and just as quickly as that, Chicken Little has come out of hiding.  The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!

The Steelers are 1-2, and some are quick to point out that the Steelers have the same record as the Detroit Lions and the Oakland Raiders.  But is that really so bad?

Statistics can be often be misleading.  Sure, the Steelers have more losses than wins.  They are also in third place in the AFC North, and trail the Baltimore Ravens by 2 games.  Despite this, I am not the least bit concerned about the Steelers.  In fact, I feel quite confident.

Let’s look at a few facts that leave me feeling extremely optimistic.

1. The Steelers have outgained their opponents 704 yards to 563 yards in their two losses. That’s right, the Steelers had significantly more yards than their opponent in both losses.

2.  Willie Parker was the leading rusher in each of the Steelers’ losses. Some have overlooked this statistic.  Sure, Willie hasn’t had any 100+ yard performances, but he’s outperformed the opposing running backs in both games.

Willie Parker

Willie Parker

3.  The Steelers led in time of possession in each loss. Usually, when you control the time of possession, you win the game.  It is rare for a team to control the ball for a full 10 minutes more than their opponent and still lose.  But that’s exactly what the Steelers did against the Bengals.  Despite the loss, I’m still happy to see the Steelers dominating the time clock.

4.  The Steelers punted a combined 5 times in their two losses compared to 11 total punts by their opponents. Any team that punts half as often as their opponent is very likely to win the game.  Unfortunately in these two games it didn’t turn out that way.  But if the defense can continue to force the opponents to punt, good things will happen.

5.  The Steelers dropped easy touchdown passes in both losses. Santonio Holmes dropped a sure touchdown against the Bears, and Limas Sweed dropped one against the Bengals.  Both of those touchdowns would have meant victory.

6.  The Steelers lost the two games by a combined 6 points. That’s all.  They lost by 3 points to the Bears, and by 3 points to the Bengals.  That’s much better than losing by a large margin.

7.  Jeff Reed missed 3 out of 5 field goal attempts in the two losses. Both games were lost by 3 points, so those missed field goals proved to be disastrous.  Despite the missed field goals, I truly doubt that Reed is going to continue to hit less than 50% of his field goal attempts.  The 3 missed field goals were an anomaly, not the norm.

Jeff Reed

Jeff Reed

8.  After 3 games, the Steelers are only one game behind their pace during their last two Super Bowl seasons. In 2005, the Steelers started the season 2-1.  They went on to finish 11-5, and won the Super Bowl.  Last year, the Steelers also started off 2-1, and finished the season 12-4 before going on to win the Super Bowl.  So after 3 games, this years’ team is only one game off of their recent Super Bowl pace.

9.  The Steelers haven’t played the Baltimore Ravens yet. Remember, we beat them 3 times last year.  Two wins over the Ravens this year will completely eliminate the current deficit.

10.  Troy Polamalu will be back soon. Do I really need to say anything more?


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Steelers vs. Bengals recap

September 28, 2009 By: Admin Category: Post-Game Reports

September 28, 2009
By Donald Starver

Okay Ashton, you can come out now.  I know that you’re out there.  I’m no fool.  I know when I’m being Punk’d.

Did you really think that I’d fall for this little prank of yours, Mr. Kutcher?  Nope, I know better than that.  I know that there is no way that the Pittsburgh Steelers could have possibly lost to the Cincinnati Bengals yesterday.

I know that anytime the Steelers score on their first 3 possession, while forcing their opponent to punt on their first 4 possessions, the Steelers are going to win the game.

I know that anytime Ben Roethlisberger throws for almost 100 more yards than Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, the Steelers are definitely going to win.

I know that if Willie Parker finally regained his form and rushed for almost 100 yards (93 yards on 25 carries, to be exact), that is the formula for a Steelers’ victory.

I know that if the Steelers’ passing offense is clicking so well that Big Ben completes passes to 8 different receivers, including 102 receiving yards to rookie wide receiver Mike Wallace, then the Steelers are going to win the game.

Did you really think that you could fool me into believing that the Steelers would let Hines Ward lose the game in which he surpassed 10,000 yards receiving for his career?

Did you really think that I’d believe that the Steelers’ defense could hold Carson Palmer to only 183 yards passing and still lose the game?

I’m sure you didn’t think that I would believe that the Steelers could dominate the time of possession by almost 10 minutes and still find a way to lose.

Nope, I’m not stupid enough to believe that any of that could happen anywhere but in one of your stupid pranks.  So you may as well come out from hiding, Ashton.  I know that you’re out there.


I know you're out there, Ashton

Do you know what really blew it for you?  Do you want to know how I knew for sure that I was being Punk’d?  You went too far.  You made your little joke too unbelievable.

I know that there is NO WAY that normally dependable kicker Jeff Reed could miss another field goal wide left after missing two such attempts last game.  Jeff Reed never misses 3 field goals in 2 games.  Never.  So that was a sure sign that this was one of your corny little pranks.

Then you had sophomore receiver Limas Sweed drop a sure touchdown that even the most incompetent wide receiver couldn’t possibly have dropped. That was another definite sign that this was a bad joke.  You were trying to remind me of Sweed’s similar drop in last year’s AFC championship game.  It was a funny piece of deja vu, but it was too over-the-top.  It was a dead giveaway that you were involved in this debacle.

But the final clue that I was being Punk’d was when you had the Steelers’ defense allow the Bengals to score two touchdowns in the 4th quarter after holding them to only 9 points in the first 3 quarters.  That was just too impossible to believe.  When that happened, your cover was blown.  I knew that it had to be a prank.

I did see the humor of having the Steelers finish the game with the exact same record as the Detroit Lions and the Oakland Raiders.  That was actually pretty funny.  It  was completely unbelievable, but funny nonetheless.

You really need to learn to make your little jokes a bit more subtle.  That way, they’ll be more believable for your victims.  While I did appreciate the drama of having the Bengals score their final touchdown with only 14 seconds left in the game, it was too obviously staged.  I know the Steelers’ defense.  I know that they would never lose a game that was that close to victory.

So save your little prank for someone who will actually believe it.  I’m just not gullible enough to fall for it.  Did you really think that I would believe any of those things could ACTUALLY happen?  I’m not that stupid.

So you may as well come out of hiding, Ashton.  I know you’re out there.  I’ve seen your show before.  I can smell one of your pranks a mile away.

Ashton!  Ashton!  Where are you?


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Steelers vs. Bengals: Key Match-ups

September 25, 2009 By: Admin Category: Pre-Game Analyses

Before reading this week’s key match-ups, please read my Steelers-Bengals Preview.

Each week I look at the key match-ups that will most likely impact the outcome of the game.  As the Steelers prepare to face the Cincinnati Bengals, there are several match-ups that should prove to be interesting.  Here are this week’s key match-ups.

Steelers CB Ike Taylor vs. Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco

Chad Ochocinco was once one of the most dangerous receivers in the NFL.  However, he has seen his productivity decline drastically over the past 2 seasons.  With Bengals’ QB Carson Palmer finally healthy again, Ochocinco’s numbers should improve considerably.

Steelers CB Ike Taylor has always risen to the challenge against Ochocinco.  In fact, it would be fair to say that Taylor owns Ochocinco.  Sorry Chad, but I don’t think you’ll be doing any celebration leaps into the crowd this week.

I own you, Ocho Cinco!

I own you, Ocho Cinco!

Steelers LT Max Starks & LG Chris Kemoeatu vs. Bengals DE Antwan Odom

Bengals defensive end Antwan Odom has been a terror this season.  He leads the NFL in sacks, and had 5 sacks last week against the Green Bay Packers.  That’s right, 5 sacks in one game.  That’s more sacks than the entire Steelers defense has accumulated this season.

We all know that Ben Roethlisberger holds the ball too long and makes himself susceptible to sacks.  Thus, the pressure will be on left tackle Max Starks and left guard Chris Kemoeatu to keep Odom off of Big Ben. 

Steelers S Tyrone Carter vs. Bengals TE Daniel Coats

It’s no secret that Troy Polamalu is out with an injury.  Until Polamalu returns, we can expect opposing offensive coordinators to target Polamalu’s replacement Tyrone Carter. 

Last week the Chicago Bears repeatedly threw across the middle to tight end Greg Olsen.  Carter landed some big hits on Olsen (one of which resulted in a $5,000 fine), but a catch by Olsen was a critical play in the Bears’ game-winning drive.

Carter has been battling a thigh injury, and if the Steelers have to play 3rd string safety Ryan Mundy, he’ll be targeted even more than Carter will be.

Steelers LB James Harrson vs. Bengals LT Andrew Whitworth

James Harrison is probably growing tired of hearing that Bengals DE Antwan Odom has more sacks than the entire Steelers team.  Moreover, he’s probably tired of being reminded that he has no sacks this season.  I suspect that Harrison is going to take out his frustration on Whitworth.


Cincinnati Bengals vs. Streaks

The Steelers have won 8 consecutive games in Cincinnati.  Ben Roethlisberger has never lost in the state of Ohio (versus the Bengals and Browns).  It would appear that history is not on the side of the Bengals.  Lets just hope that the Bengals are a superstitious bunch.

I predict a closer game than we’ve had in recent years when these two teams have met.  Many national analysts are picking the Bengals to win this game.  However, we at Steelers Today know better.  Look for a 9th consecutive Steelers win in Cincinnati.  Final score:  Steelers 21, Bengals 17.


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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals Preview

September 24, 2009 By: Admin Category: Pre-Game Analyses

September 25, 2009
By Donald Starver

This is an important week in the AFC North.  All four AFC North teams will be facing opponents from within the division.  The Steelers play the Bengals, and the B******* R***** play the Cleveland Browns.  So this weekend will have an important impact on the final outcome of the season.  After all, the most important games are division games.

Following last week’s loss to the Chicago Bears, I heard many Steelers fans say things like “The Steelers will turn it around next week with an easy win over the Bengals”.  My response to that is that the team needs to be very careful.  Anytime you take an opponent for granted, it can become a trap game.

Sure, the Steelers have beaten the Bengals 5 consecutive times, and swept the season series against them in both 2007 and 2008.  However, this is 2009, and the Bengals look like a team on the rise.

The Bengals are 1-1, and are tied with the Steelers for 2nd place in the AFC North (1st place is held by that purple team that shall not be named).

Last week, the Bengals lit up the scoreboard in a 31-24 win over the Green Bay Packers.  Carson Palmer tossed 3 touchdown passes, and Cedrick Benson rushed for 141 yards (Yeah, THAT Cedrick Benson.  I couldn’t believe it either).

Both the Steelers and the Bengals seem to be playing in a bizarro universe where everything is reversed. 

In most years, if I were to tell you that one of these two teams ran the ball 34 times for 151 yards while the quarterback only threw 23 times for 185 yards, you would likely assume that I was talking about the Steelers.  Similarly, if I were to tell you that one of the teams has shown a pass-happy offense and has struggled to establish their running game, you would generally think I was talking about Carson Palmer and the Bengals.  However, that would be in most years, but not in this strange bizarro 2009 season.

Bengals Seahawks Football

Bengals' QB Carson Palmer

This season, the Steelers are ranked #7 in the NFL in passing while the formerly pass-happy Bengals are ranked #23 in passing.  Contrarily, the historically run-oriented Steelers are ranked 28th in the league in rushing while the Bengals are ranked 12th. 

Things are just as abnormal on the defensive side of the ball.  The Bengals lead the NFL in sacks, while the Blitzburgh defense has only 3 sacks.  The Steelers sack tandem of James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley have a grand total of zero sacks between them.  That’s right, zero.  Meanwhile, the Bengals’ Antwan Odom had 5 sacks last week against the Packers, and he leads the NFL with 7 sacks for the season.

Are you starting to see why I am baffled, and feel like I am living in an alternate reality where everything is reversed?

Despite their success over the Bengals for the last few years, the Steelers have to remember that Carson Palmer has battled injuries over the last few years and is finally back at full health.  When he was healthy, Palmer led the Bengals to their first AFC North championship ever.  So their offense should not be taken lightly.

Their once porous defense has also been upgraded.  The Bengals drafted former USC linebacker Rey Maualuga, and he is already having an impact.  Maualuga had a sack and forced 2 fumbles in last week’s game.  The Bengals also get back another USC linebacker, Keith Rivers, who missed most of last season when he suffered a broken jaw at the hands of Hines Ward.  Rumor has it that Rivers is looking for some payback on Ward.

Sunday’s game will be played in Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium, so the Bengals will have the home field advantage.  Fortunately, Steeler Nation always infiltrates the Bengals home and  transforms Cincinnati to Pittsburgh, Ohio.  Once the Steelers take the lead, Bengals fans usual go completely silent, and the game sounds more like a home game for the Steelers.

Since the world as we know it seems to be turned upside down, perhaps the Cleveland Browns will defeat that Purple team that we choose not to mention, and the Steelers might emerge from this weekend tied for first place in the AFC North.  But of course, the Steelers have to beat the Bengals.  And that won’t be as easy as it’s been in the past.


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