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Old 10-29-2007, 04:40 AM   #1
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Default Steelers stay focused, play near-perfect game

Steelers stay focused, play near-perfect game
By Mike Prisuta
Monday, October 29, 2007

Cincinnati had more at stake, but the Steelers had much to prove.

The Bengals responded by kicking a field goal from the 2-yard line.

The Steelers responded by playing a complete game, if not a perfect one, in what became a dominating, 24-13 triumph.

For the Bengals, Sunday afternoon was about salvation.
They had snapped a four-game losing streak with a hope-inspiring, 38-31 victory over the Jets on Oct. 21. A subsequent win at home over the Steelers would move them to within a game of first place in what might yet turn out to be anybody's AFC North Division.

For the Steelers, yesterday was about redemption.

They had lost some face and a game, 31-28, on Oct. 21 in Denver. Another such setback would drop them to 0-3 on the road since Cleveland and further question their legitimacy as contenders, while keeping the door in the AFC North wide open.

A victory, conversely, and two more -- against Baltimore and Cleveland at home -- in the next two weeks would give the Steelers a chance to grab a stranglehold on the division prior to Thanksgiving.

The Bengals responded by playing and coaching tight, as if the weight of the world was on their shoulders.

The Steelers responded by playing football.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, a self-proclaimed week-to-week guy, stayed true to his philosophy, and his team followed.

"Your ability to stay focused on what's in front of you is going to define you in terms of greatness," Tomlin said. "People get mentally weak when they look at the big picture. 'Oh, we lost one last week. Oh, if we lose this one, we've lost two in a row. Oh, we have a big game next week.'

"No. Boom. Right here. Stay focused where you are and appreciate the journey. If you do that and you do a good enough job of it, that'll take you where you want to go. That's our approach. That's been our approach. That's always going to be our approach.

"I could care less who we play in two weeks."

The Steelers wasted no time or energy on that, on what had gone wrong in Arizona and Denver or on how the division might shake down three weeks from now.

They formulated what Tomlin called a "no frills" approach for the Bengals, and they executed it well enough to send the largest crowd in Paul Brown Stadium history (66,188) home early.

The Steelers wanted to feature fullback Dan Kreider's isolation blocking. When they lost Kreider early (ankle), they simply turned to Carey Davis.

The Steelers wanted Ben Roethlisberger to make plays, even the difficult ones the team has come to expect from him. Roethlisberger threw one ill-advised pick but was otherwise brilliant.

And the Steelers wanted to keep the Bengals' high-powered offense out of the end zone. Cincinnati managed one touchdown in six possessions.

Now comes Baltimore.

The Steelers will prepare for the Ravens by concentrating on the Ravens rather than what happened last season or what another victory might mean in the grand scheme of things.

They'll play to win because there's a game to be won.

The new guy might be onto something.
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