Steelers-Bengals key matchup
Steelers-Bengals key matchup
By Mike Prisuta
Sunday, October 28, 2007
LAST WEEK: Denver DT Sam Adams didn't show up on the stat sheet with so much as one assisted tackle, but the Broncos prevented the Steelers from consistently establishing the running game (or was it the Steelers that prevented the Steelers from consistently establishing the running game?). The Broncos are still ranked last in run defense, but they had the last laugh against the Steelers. EDGE: BRONCOS
THE STEELERS' OFFENSE vs. BENGALS LB ROBERT GEATHERS
BENGALS LB ROBERT GEATHERS: While playing as a backup DE a year ago, Geathers (6-foot-3, 265 pounds) still managed to lead the Bengals with 10.5 sacks, the most in Cincinnati since Eddie Edwards' 13 in 1983. This season, Geathers has started at two positions, left DE and, for the past two games because of injuries, strong-side OLB. No matter where he's played, Geathers has made the multiyear contract he signed last January pay dividends.
Geathers, a former fourth-round pick out of Georgia in 2004, ranks fourth among Bengals with 32 tackles. But he and FS Madieu Williams are the only Cincinnati defenders to register in all six defensive statistics (tackles, sacks, interceptions, passes defensed, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries) through six games. Geathers took care of that in the regular-season opener against Baltimore, when he accounted for eight tackles, an interception, a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pass defensed while lining up at left DE.
In a league where seemingly every defense is looking for an Adalius Thomas-type and trying to use him accordingly, Geathers is Cincinnati's best candidate.
THE STEELERS' OFFENSE: It was a tale of two units last Sunday night in Denver. The Steelers scored a touchdown on their opening possession of the game then went punt-interception-punt-interception-fumble-missed field goal throughout the remainder of what quickly became a ragged first half. The fumble was returned 50 yards for a Broncos touchdown.
In the second half the Steelers got their hands on the ball three times and found the end zone three times, rallying from 21-7 and 28-14 deficits and eventually tying the game at 28-28.
They'll hit Cincinnati ranked No. 6 in the NFL in total offense (second rushing and 23rd passing). Although they've attempted more runs (201) than passes (181, including 15 sacks) the Steelers of late have taken on the look of a team that uses the pass to set up the run (they have a lot of company throughout the NFL in that capacity).
THE MATCHUP: Mike Tomlin considers Geathers a "unique matchup" in the holes in the running game and on blitz-pickup for RBs in the passing game. Plenty of Steelers should get an opportunity to prove their head coach wrong.
FBs Dan Kreider and Carey Davis will take shots at Geathers on occasion in the running game. He'll also draw attention from the Steelers' TEs, Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth and/or Jerame Tuman, as well as OTs Willie Colon and/or Marvel Smith (depending upon where Geathers lines up).
Even if Geathers can handle all that and have himself a day, the Steelers ought to be able to survive it if not thrive in spite of it. The Bengals are ranked No. 29 in total defense for a reason. EDGE: STEELERS