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Old 11-12-2011, 07:45 AM   #1
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Default Bengals stress battle in trenches vs. Steelers

Bengals stress battle in trenches vs. Steelers
By Ralph N. Paulk, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, November 12, 2011

CINCINNATI Despite their 6-2 start, the Cincinnati Bengals aren't going to be impressed with what they've accomplished unless they can defeat the Steelers on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.

The Bengals are confident and on a five-game win streak, their best run in 23 years. But most Bengals acknowledge they can't win six in a row if they don't dominate at the line of scrimmage. Their offensive line has been inconsistent, and the Steelers' revamped defensive front continues to improve.

"It's going to take a huge effort to win the battle in the trenches," center Kyle Cook said. "Everyone tight ends and receivers have to play well. That's the way it's been all year long. ... (Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau) runs a good scheme. I can't say what they're vulnerable to, but you look at their personnel and you're reminded that they've won some championships."

Cincinnati has some work to do offensively. It is 10th in the AFC in total offense, ninth in passing and 11th in rushing.

"We went into the season knowing we had to play well on the offensive line," coach Marvin Lewis said. "There have been moments we've played well."

Andre Smith, a 6-foot-4, 335-pounder playing right tackle, has fared well during the winning streak. And the third-year pro won't have to deal with Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who will be sidelined again with an injured left hamstring.

"We weren't sure where we were going to be at that position," Lewis said.

The offensive front, anchored by right guard Bobbie Williams and left tackle Andrew Whitworth, hasn't been spectacular. But it has played well enough to protect rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, who has been sacked only 13 times -- compared to 26 for the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger. (Backup Bruce Gradkowski has been sacked once.)

"We've had a few years to grow together," Williams said. "We know each other's tendencies and lingo, which makes a difference in the heat of battle."

Dalton has been poised under pressure, throwing for 1,696 yards, 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He'll be challenged by the AFC's third-best defense, which expects to show him a few unfamiliar looks to try to pull him out of his comfort zone.

"It's important to get any quarterback rattled no matter if he's a rookie or not," linebacker James Harrison said. "If we let him get comfortable in the pocket, then you're going to get beat. (Dalton) is not a starter in this league for no reason. He can play the game."

The Bengals have had problems with Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton. Cook faces a stiff challenge, but he'll probably get help from left guard Nate Livings and Williams.

"Whatever we do against them, we have to be consistent," Cook said. "You can't let one guy make a play one time and another make a play another time."

The Bengals' focus, it seems, is on the linebackers, particularly Harrison.

"Harrison plays the way he always plays," Whitworth said. "It's such a job having to shut him down, but we're excited about the challenge. It's the same old Pittsburgh team we've seen. They're just filling guys in."

On the defensive front, the Steelers actually are a different team than the one that swept the Bengals last season. The line may be aging, but LeBeau has turned to several young players including Ziggy Hood, rookie Cameron Heyward and Steve McLendon as the Steelers pursue their first win against an AFC North opponent.

Read more: Bengals stress battle in trenches vs. Steelers - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt...#ixzz1dUyJXTy7
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Old 11-12-2011, 11:03 AM   #2
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Default Re: Bengals stress battle in trenches vs. Steelers

I'd like to see Keisel have another big game against them. Harrison played great against Baltimore, but he gets held every single play. Every single play you see a tackle with his arm around Harrison's neck pulling him backwards. He is so good that he will still make some plays, but with Woodley out again Keisel needs to get some QB pressure.
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