AFC North: Steelers-Bengals

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

 
 Andy Lyons/Getty Images
 Ohio native Ben Roethlisberger improved to 11-0 in his home state on Sunday.

CINCINNATI -- Sometimes it can be difficult to focus on a minor quiz when a major test is looming.

That was the situation the Pittsburgh Steelers found themselves in Sunday. But they aced the quiz easily with a 38-10 victory over the winless and hapless Cincinnati Bengals. The hard part starts next week.

The Steelers proved in their past two games that they are maturing. Pittsburgh had every reason to lay an egg in Jacksonville two weeks ago, because the team was banged up and looking forward to a bye week. Instead, the Steelers gutted out a road win over a team that had beaten them four straight times.

On Sunday, Pittsburgh faced the NFL's worst team, which played with backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick replacing the injured Carson Palmer. The Steelers established a double-digit lead in the first quarter, then pulled away for good with three straight touchdowns in the final period. Pittsburgh also beat up Fitzpatrick on the way to a season-high seven sacks.

In what became a competition to see who could get to the quarterback faster, Pittsburgh linebackers Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison each had two sacks apiece.

"The fun thing about those guys right now is they're competing against one another," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "James Harrison is the bus driver. And if he gets a [big] play off, he's going to let No. 56 [Woodley] hear about it, or No. 94 [Timmons] hear about it, or No. 51 [James Farrior].

"That's how they're playing. The biggest competition is in your backyard, and that's how they approach it."

The Bengals certainly didn't provide much competition for Pittsburgh, especially in the second half. As the lead grew, Pittsburgh dug in its cleats and continued to tee off on Fitzpatrick (164 yards passing, one touchdown). He often scrambled wildly before being spun around like a top and knocked to the ground.

"We didn't protect our quarterback worth a darn today," a disappointed Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

CINCINNATI--The Pittsburgh Steelers did what was expected Sunday against the winless Cincinnati Bengals.

The top team in the AFC North blew out the arguably the worst team in the NFL easily Sunday with a 38-10 road victory at Paul Brown Stadium.

The Steelers pulled away for good by scoring three fourth-quarter touchdowns. Tailback Mewelde Moore had his first 100-yard game as a Steeler with 120 rushing yards.

The defense also had a field day by sacking Bengals quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick seven times.

Pittsburgh improved to 5-1 and will enter the tough part of its schedule next week, starting with a home game against the New York Giants. Meanwhile, the Bengals' (0-7) nightmare season continues next week with a road game against the Houston Texans.

Steelers pulling away

October, 19, 2008
10/19/08
3:41
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

CINCINNATI--After a relatively quiet third quarter, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger connected with Nate Washington for a 50-yard touchdown reception to give Pittsburgh a 24-10 lead.

The Bengals kept the game within reach in the second half until Washington's big catch. Cincinnati now has a two-touchdown deficit to overcome in the final seven minutes, which doesn't seem likely.

The Steelers also suffered a pair of injuries in the second half. Cornerback Bryant McFadden has an arm injury and safety Troy Polamalu suffered a blow to the head. Both players are questionable to return.

Steelers-Bengals halftime notes

October, 19, 2008
10/19/08
2:35
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

CINCINNATI--The Pittsburgh Steelers lead the Cincinnati Bengals 10-7 at halftime, after Cincinnati came alive towards the end of the second quarter with a late touchdown.

Here are some halftime observations:

  • Say what you want about Steelers receiver Hines Ward, but his crushing blow against rookie linebacker Keith Rivers set a tone for this game. Ward blocked Rivers on a Matt Spaeth reception that likely broke Rivers' jaw and knocked him out of the game. Pittsburgh has been the more physical team in this game.
  • The Bengals offense struggled to muster anything until the end of the first half. Cincinnati gained just 18 yards on its first 13 plays, and didn't get its initial first down until the five-minute mark of the second quarter. A loud cheer erupted from the crowd at that moment. A two-minute drive towards the end of the half produced its only points after Chad Ocho Cinco recorded his second touchdown of the season.
  • Steelers tailback Mewelde Moore is doing another nice job filling in for the injured Willie Parker (knee). Moore has 37 yards on nine carries and a touchdown on a 2-yard reception.
  • Cincinnati receiver Chris Henry is having a breakout game so far. After missing the first four games because of a suspension, Henry has three receptions for 44 yards in what's been his best half this year.

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

CINCINNATI -- The Bengals are bungling once again.

The first quarter just ended, but the boos are out early in Paul Brown Stadium.

So far Cincinnati's has allowed 10 quick points, punter Kyle Larson booted a kick off the side of his foot, and the offense has yet to get a first down.

The Steelers lead 10-0 after one quarter and Bengals fans are uneasy about what they're seeing. Unless the Bengals turn things around fast, the rout might be on.

Update: Bengals rookie linebacker Keith Rivers (jaw) is declared out for the rest of the game.

Ward delivers another hard shot

October, 19, 2008
10/19/08
1:18
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

CINCINNATI -- It didn't take Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward long to prove he will not change the way he plays football.

Just several days after being fined by the NFL for hard blocks, Ward delivered another crushing blow in the opening drive of Pittsburgh's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Ward knocked rookie linebacker Keith Rivers out of the game with a block following a Matt Spaeth reception. Although Rivers didn't see Ward coming, there were no flags on the play. But, as last week proved, that doesn't necessarily promise Ward will avoid fines in the near future.

Rivers sustained a jaw injury on the play and his return is doubtful. The Steelers scored a touchdown on the opening drive to take a 7-0 lead following a Mewelde Moore 2-yard reception from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

No Parker, Hampton for Steelers

October, 19, 2008
10/19/08
11:55
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

CINCINNATI -- Pittsburgh Steelers starting running back Willie Parker and defensive tackle Casey Hampton are among the key inactives for Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Pittsburgh (4-1) also will be without running back Carey Davis (ankle) and tackle Marvel Smith (back). The Bengals (0-6) are without quarterback Carson Palmer (elbow) and kicker Shayne Graham for the second straight week.

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