Sunday, December 12, 2010
Rapid Reaction: Steelers 23, Bengals 7
By James Walker
PITTSBURGH -- Here are early thoughts on the Pittsburgh Steelers' victory over the Cincinnati Bengals:
What it means: The Steelers (10-3) avoided a trap game and took care of business against the lowly Bengals (2-11), who lost their NFL-high 10th game in a row. Pittsburgh has a huge home game next week against the New York Jets (9-3 before Sunday's game against Miami) that could impact seeding and potential tiebreakers in the AFC playoffs. With the victory, the Steelers have already surpassed last year's win total of nine and they remain in control of the AFC North, regardless of the outcome of Monday's game involving the Baltimore Ravens (8-4).
What I liked: Pittsburgh's defense played well, picking off three passes. With the Steelers' offense unable to get in the end zone, safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker LaMarr Woodley both returned picks for touchdowns. The Bengals' opening drive was solid, but Cincinnati struggled the rest of the way. Cincinnati's pass rush was good, registering four sacks of Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
What I didn't like: Once again, I didn't like what I saw from Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer. He threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns . Both were poor throws that shouldn't have been made. Palmer has six multi-interception games this season. The Steelers, suffering from a hangover in the first half from last week's big win in Baltimore, started slowly and needed Polamalu's big play late in the first half to get them going. Pittsburgh must play better next week to beat the Jets.
Other notes: Bengals starting safety Chinedum Ndukwe suffered a knee injury in the first half and was knocked out of the game. Ndukwe, who could miss significant time, was replaced by backup Reggie Nelson. Pittsburgh kicker Shaun Suisham put together another solid outing since replacing veteran Jeff Reed. Suisham made all three of his field goal attempts.
What's next: As we mentioned earlier, the Steelers will have a big game next week against the Jets. For the Bengals, they will add another installment to the "Battle of Ohio" against the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland won the first meeting this season, 23-20, which started Cincinnati's 10-game losing streak.