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Old 10-20-2008, 06:06 AM   #1
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Default Steelers brush aside inferior opponent

Steelers brush aside inferior opponent
By John Harris
Monday, October 20, 2008

Oh, it would have been so easy for the Steelers to mail this one in.

So simple to offers alibis for injuries to starters Willie Parker, Marvel Smith, Kendall Simmons and Casey Hampton.

So understandable to overlook the Cincinnati Bengals.

Questions, questions.

Are the Bengals really that bad? Did the poor caliber of Sunday's opponent threaten to distract the Steelers?

No, the Bengals aren't as bad as their 0-7 record would indicate following a 38-10 whipping administered by the Steelers on a beautiful afternoon at Paul Brown Stadium. They're far worse. This team could go 0-16.

Thankfully, the 5-1 Steelers didn't sink to the Bengals' level, although you probably couldn't blame the players for at least entertaining the thought.

"We know in the NFL you have these type of games -- when a team is going good and a team is doing bad -- sometimes it's a trap," said Steelers inside linebacker James Farrior, who produced a game-high 11 tackles and a sack. "But we have a lot of veteran guys around this locker room that know how to not let stuff like that set in. Any team can beat you any game, so you definitely always have to pay attention."

Of course, Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis probably didn't help matters when he deferred the opening kickoff and gave the ball to the Steelers. If Lewis didn't trust his offense in the hands of backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, why should the Steelers respect, much less fear, the winless, hapless Bengals?

Good for the Steelers. They maintained their focus and beat the stuffing out of what used to be a pretty good football team.

"The game was typical for us coming out of the bye (week) with the quality of execution early on," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "The positive thing was we played hard and we played fast, just not with the quality of execution. We also had a little rust. The guys didn't blink, and they continued."

The Bengals are a bad football team. So what? What would you be saying today if the Steelers had stunk it up against the Bengals? Lousy bums wouldn't be the half of it.

The 28-point shellacking on the road against an AFC North opponent was another testament to what has made the Steelers so good for so long.

A week-to-week commitment to excellence is what drives this team.

With Parker sidelined by a knee injury, Mewelde Moore stepped up with a 120-yard, three-touchdown performance yesterday.

"We just gave him a game ball," Tomlin of Moore, who rushed for 99 yards in his first start in Parker's absence against Jacksonville two weeks ago. "This guy is delivering time and time again with his legs, with his hands."

With Smith sitting out because of back spasams, Max Starks made his first start of the season and the offensive line doesn't allow a sack for the first time in 2008.

"Max Starks stepped in at left tackle and, based on how we moved the ball and protected, I can say he did a good job," Tomlin said.

Moving right along, the less said about yesterday's big Steelers win, the better.

What's done is done.

It was great while it lasted, but the Steelers can't permit their latest performance to linger.

There are bigger tests ahead, starting next Sunday against the Super Bowl champion New York Giants at Heinz Field. Make no mistake, the Bengals were the warm-up act for the Giants
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