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Old 12-03-2007, 07:57 AM   #1
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Default Big Ben, Steelers master grass, Bengals

Big Ben, Steelers master grass, Bengals
By Mike Prisuta
Monday, December 3, 2007

Mike Tomlin led his Steelers into their "Football Night in America" appearance Sunday night maintaining improvement was apparent if not obvious.
The Steelers backed him up with a much-needed, if not essential, 24-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

It helped that the Heinz Field playing surface was playable for a change.

All that was necessary to ensure that the embarrassment of the Miami game wouldn't be repeated was a week's worth of tender-loving repair; a triple-layer of tarps protecting the field against a mid-afternoon rain; five tractors with blowers attached policing up any water that lingered once the rains subsided; and about 30 or so grounds-keeping personnel, some equipped with squeegees, giving the quilt a once-over before its removal.

As someone once said, whatever it takes.
Conditions were such that the Steelers were even able to honor America with our National Anthem this time, as performed by the Povertyneck Hillbillies, even though it had started raining again by then.

The Hillbillies made it back out to midfield by halftime, too.

By then, the Steelers were looking right at home and leading, 17-7.

A sluggish start might have cost the Steelers, but the Bengals played as if they'd conceded a struggle against the NFL's No. 1 defense and the elements.

Cincinnati moved with ease on its first possession, taking the opening kickoff and marching 75 yards in 12 plays for a 7-0 lead. And the Bengals reached Steelers' territory on their next possession and the one after that, and they started their fourth series at the Steelers' 28.

But they remained stuck on seven points until less than seven minutes remained in the third quarter.

The Bengals ran 13 offensive snaps from the Steelers' side of the 50 in the opening 15 minutes but were unable to grab control of the game.

Their first two hikes of the second quarter occurred in Steelers' territory, too. On the second of those, Shayne Graham missed a 43-yard field goal.

After that, it was all Steelers.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was wild-high on his first attempt and intercepted on his third, found a rhythm and began to deftly overcome any hardships presented by the conditions and the Bengals' defense.

Roethlisberger provided his usual dose of improvisation, including a 6-yard scramble for a touchdown that was reminiscent of his dash in Super Bowl XL in that it appeared as if he might not have scored.

But the Steelers' quarterback also repeatedly inflicted damage from the pocket.

More often than not, Roethlisberger's line gave him enough time, and he took advantage, at one point hanging in until the last possible second to deliver a strike to tight end Heath Miller for a 9-yard gain on the Steelers' first touchdown drive.

Roethlisberger, despite a what-was-he-thinking interception deep in Steelers' territory with 8:31 remaining, badly outplayed his Cincinnati counterpart. Carson Palmer must now be considered Roethlisberger's superior in reputation only.

Palmer was widely inaccurate throughout. And when presented with repeated opportunities to get the Bengals back in the game, he fizzled.

Maybe if they get him another receiver ...

And coach him up on slingin' in the rain.
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