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Old 12-04-2011, 09:02 AM   #1
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Default Steelers Key Matchups: vs. Bengals

Steelers Key Matchups: vs. Bengals


By Mike Bires mbires@timesonline.com | Posted: Saturday, December 3, 2011 11:45 pm



Before Tyler Palko’s meltdown last week when he lost a fumble and threw three interceptions, the Steelers’ defense had struggled with takeaways. Their 10-turnover total still one of the lowest in the NFL. They’re also struggling when it comes to sacking opposing quarterbacks. The Steelers only have 24. They’re on pace for 35, which would be their lowest since 1990,when they had 34.

In 2010, the Steelers had 48 sacks when star linebackers James Harrison (10.5) and LaMarr Woodley (10) combined for 20.5. However, they haven’t had as many opportunities this year as they did last year when they played in every game. Harrison missed four starts earlier in the year with a fractured eye orbital. Woodley missed the last three games with a pulled hamstring. Today marks the first time since Oct. 2 that both Harrison and Woodley are in the starting lineup.

This season, the Bengals have done an outstanding job protecting rookie quarterback Andy Dalton. He’s only been sacked 16 times, which is 16 times less than Ben Roethlisberger. In order to take pressure off Dalton, Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is using a quick-striking passing scheme with plenty of short and intermediate throws. And the offensive line has done a solid job keeping Dalton clean.

Tackles Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith have the task of blocking Harrison and Woodley. On Nov. 13 when the Steelers beat the Bengals 24-17 at Paul Brown Stadium, Roethlisberger was sacked five times. But not once did the Steelers sack Dalton.

Despite the time they’ve missed due to injuries, Woodley (nine) and Harrrison (five) still lead the Steelers in sacks.



Mike Wallace is a marked man. Opposing defenses know all about his blazing speed and deep-ball ability. Rarely does Wallace line up against single coverage. Teams double team Wallace and take their chances with Roethlisberger’s other options.

Wallace clearly isn’t the factor he was earlier in the year. In the first seven games, Wallace had four 100-yard receiving games and none lower than 76. In those seven games, he caught five touchdown passes.

But in the Steelers’ last four games, Wallace has only one TD catch and hasn’t come close to 100 yards. In fact, his production has dropped off in each of the past four weeks — 70 yards vs. New England, 68 vs. Baltimore, 54 vs. Cincinnati and just 17 last week in Kansas City when he caught only two passes.

Wallace, who has 55 catches this season for 939 yards, admits that it’s harder for him to get open now that he’s seeing so many double teams. But it’s not impossible to get open, he insists. He pointed out that twice in the 13-9 win over the Chiefs, he dropped passes that should have been TDs — an 8-yarder in the first quarter and a 73-yarder in the second quarter.

That prompted coach Mike Tomlin to say that his receivers must do a better job of making “more competitive catches.”

Wallace took that personally. “If he’s saying it, there can only be one person he’s talking to,” he said.

Wallace is determined to be productive against a banged-up Bengals secondary that’s had its share of injuries in recent weeks.
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Old 12-04-2011, 09:15 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers Key Matchups: vs. Bengals

I like that Wallace is owning his mistakes.
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Old 12-04-2011, 12:14 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers Key Matchups: vs. Bengals

Nate Clements is OUT!! the bungal secondary is really hurting
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