View Full Version : Bengals at Steelers: Five questions

12-12-2010, 08:45 AM
Bengals at Steelers: Five questions
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Saturday December 11, 2010 09:58 PM

Is age starting to take a toll on Hines Ward?

Based on statistics, that’s a fair assumption for the Steelers’ all-time receptions leader. Ward, who’s 34, has 41 catches this season for 523 yards and four TDs. Ward and teammate Mike Wallace, a second-year pro who’s also caught 41 balls, are tied for 56th in the NFL in receptions. At his current pace, Ward projects to finish with 54 catches and 697 yards. If that turns out to be the case, those would be his lowest totals since 2000 when he caught 48 passes for 672 yards. By comparison, Ward put up big numbers last year with 95 catches for 1,167 yards. Ward holds Steeler career records for most catches (936), receiving yards (11,470) and TD catches (82).

Why is Jeremy Kapinos, the Steelers’ new punter, wearing jersey No. 13?

On Tuesday when the Steelers signed Kapinos, it was announced that he'd wear No. 3, the number worn by kicker Jeff Reed the past nine years. But Kapinos has since changed his mind and asked for No. 13. He made that change to honor Bill Renner, his coach from West Springfield (Va.) High School. When Renner punted for the Green Bay packers in 1986-87, he wore 13. Last year when Kapinos kicked for the Packers, he wore No. 7. When he kicked at Penn State, he wore 36. According to the Steelers' media guide, Kapinos is only the third Steeler to ever wear 13, and the first since quarterback Bill Mackrides in 1954. The other was center Lee Mulleneaux in 1936.

The Bengals are riding a nine-game losing streak. When was the last time the Steelers lost nine straight?

The Steelers haven’t lost nine straight since 1969 when Chuck Noll was in his first year as coach. The Steelers won their first game in ‘69, and then lost 13 straight. The Bengals have had three nine-game losing streaks in the past 20 years. If they lose today to the Steelers as expected, they’ll match the franchise record of 10 straight losses set in 1993 under coach Dave Shula when they opened with 10 straight losses en route to a 3-13 finish.
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Is the Bengals' pass rush as good as Mike Tomlin says it is?

Tomlin, the Steelers' fourth-year coach, often exaggerates when talking about an opponent, and he may have done so again Tuesday at his weekly press conference. “This young-man rush rotation that they have has been pretty impressive over the last several weeks,” Tomlin said of the Bengals’ pass rush. Tomlin may be correct to say that rookie defensive end Carlos Dunlap (above) has “come on like gangbusters.” Dunlap leads the Bengals with 4.5 sacks including 3 in the last two games. But no one else on the team has more than 2.0. Since the Steelers won in Cincinnati on Nov. 8, Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 15 times in the last four games. But the Bengals have only recorded 14 sacks all season.

What does the Steelers’ schedule look like for 2011?

Because of the NFL’s scheduling format that was adopted in 2002, they already know most of their opponents for next season. Obviously, they have home and away games with the Bengals, Browns and Ravens, their AFC North foes. They also host the Jaguars, Titans, Rams and Seahawks, and they have away games against the Colts, Texans, Cardinals and 49ers. Their remaining two games will be determined by how they finish in the division standings. If they win the AFC North, they would host the AFC East champ and visit the AFC West champ.