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News » Cincinnati Bengals Inside Slant 2008-10-16

Cincinnati Bengals Inside Slant 2008-10-16

Cincinnati Bengals Inside Slant 2008-10-16
Well, maybe the Bengals -- again without starting quarterback Carson Palmer -- can get their first victory of the season in their seventh game against their most hated rival, the Steelers.

Pittsburgh, coming off its bye, brings its AFC North-leading 4-1 record to Paul Brown Stadium for a 1 p.m. game Sunday against the 0-6 Bengals.

With the playoffs out of the picture, the Bengals are just looking for a victory that they say, to a man, would get them on a roll.

"Oh-and-anything stinks," said linebacker Dhani Jones.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis gave his players a mini-bye, cancelling their Monday meetings.

"Our level of work is not an issue," Lewis said. "We don't have any whiners on this team. The best thing now is for the players to get away from it a little, and to give our coaches some extra time to look at everything we're doing with a critical eye. Then we'll move forward and meet the Steelers."

The Bengals managed only 171 net offensive yards against the Jets. It was the team's second game this year under 200 yards, and its fourth at 215 or below. Cincinnati played without injured starting Palmer for the second time in three games -- and will do so again this week as Ryan Fitzpatrick makes his third start -- but Lewis admitted the offense's problems are bigger than who's playing quarterback.

"The most disappointing aspect of the loss is not being able again to get anything going offensively," Lewis said. "We obviously did not at all meet the objective of establishing the running game."

On 15 carries by running backs Chris Perry and Cedric Benson, the Bengals netted only 20 yards. Cincinnati's offensive line, a veteran group which has not had a starter miss a game this season, has perhaps been the winless club's biggest puzzle.

"I'll say it starts with me," said right guard Bobbie Williams, a team captain. "I'm not looking past my own mirror. All I can tell you is that the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to get my best."

The Steelers will present another major test for the struggling Cincinnati offense, which is last in the NFL in total yards. The Steelers rank second in the NFL in net defense, including second against the run (66.8 yards per game).

There are a couple of big reasons for the continued success of the Pittsburgh defense. Strong safety Troy Polamalu is health again and has three of the team's four interceptions. And no team in the NFL in the free agency era has made better decisions of when to let go of an aging player but make sure it has a replacement groomed and ready. The Steelers let outside linebacker Clark Haggans leave and had LaMarr Woodley prepared. Between them, Woodley and fellow outside linebacker James Harrison have 12 of the Steelers 18 sacks. The Steelers have yet to unleash inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who plays in the nickel defense.

Those 18 sacks in five games are half as many as the 36 the Pittsburgh defense had in all of 2007. The matchup between the Steelers pass rush and the Bengals pass protection could be a bad one for Cincinnati. The Bengals in six games have yielded 19 sacks -- two more than they gave up in 2007, when the 17 yielded were a franchise low for one season.

SERIES HISTORY: 76th regular-season meeting. Steelers lead the series 45-30 and 1-0 in their lone playoff game. Pittsburgh swept the series last year on its way to the AFC North championship, winning 24-13 at Paul Brown Stadium and 24-10 at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh leads 21-17 as the road team. The Steelers won the only postseason game between the two clubs on Jan. 8, 2006, at Paul Brown Stadium, 31-17. The Bengals have played more regular-season games against the Steelers (75) than any other opponent. Tennessee (formerly Houston Oilers) is second with 72 meetings, and Cleveland is third with 70.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 16, 2008

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