Perennial laughingstocks, the Bengals could take a major step
toward winning their first division title in 17 years Sunday
when they meet the Steelers for a second time this season.
Cincinnati, which has not won a division crown since
capturing the AFC Central in 1988, enters the contest with a
one-game lead over Pittsburgh.
However, the Bengals still have plenty to prove against the
Steelers. They have lost nine of the last 11 meetings between
the teams, including a 27-13 home drubbing on October 23.
While the Steelers failed to get much going through the air,
they pounded the Bengals on the ground, rushing for 221 yards.
Willie Parker led the way, rushing for 131 yards and a
With the running game leading the way, Pittsburgh's Ben
Roethlisberger completed 9-of-14 passes for just 93 yards and
two touchdowns with an interception.
Roethlisberger hit rookie tight end Heath Miller with a two-yard
touchdown early in the second quarter and connected with Hines
Ward on a three-yard scoring play in the third quarter, giving
the Steelers a 24-6 lead.
The Steelers also frustrated Carson Palmer, who completed
21-of-36 passes for 227 yards. But Palmer threw two
interceptions in a 3 1/2 minute span of the third quarter when
the Steelers took control of the game.
Cincinnati has rebounded to win three of its last four games
since the loss to the Steelers, including last week's 42-29
victory over Baltimore. Palmer completed 22-of-30 passes for
302 yards and three touchdowns with an interception.
The Steelers enter the contest looking to avoid their first
three-game losing streak since a five-game slide in 2003.
After missing three games following arthroscopic right knee
surgery, Roethlisberger returned in last Monday's 26-7 loss at
Indianapolis. He completed 17-of-26 passes for 133 yards and
one touchdown with two interceptions in falling to 18-2 in his
career as a starter during the regular season.
Matchup to watch: Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who
had seven catches for 75 yards in the first meeting, against
left cornerback Ike Taylor, who was beaten for an 80-yard
touchdown by Marvin Harrison last Monday.
Series: The Steelers lead, 42-28.
Next week: Cincinnati hosts Cleveland, December 11
Pittsburgh hosts Chicago, December 11
Manziel should emulate Brees, says Bengals DC The man behind the defense that forced Johnny Manziel into a disastrous NFL starting debut says the Browns quarterback can look to Drew Brees for small-statured quarterback inspiration.
The top spot in the AFC North will be on the line when the Bengals look to exact revenge for an earlier home loss to the Steelers this season. For the Bengals to even the score, they must get more out of their big three of QB Carson Palmer, RB Rudi Johnson and WR Chad Johnson than they did in the earlier meeting.
After being embarrassed by the Colts on Monday night, the Steelers must regain their confidence and properly prepare during a short work week. With the dust now knocked off, QB Ben Roethlisberger must re-establish his presence as a calming force and leader. But the X-factor in this game will be the Steelers rushing attack, which shredded through the Bengals defense the first time these two teams met.