NFL Nation: Paul Brown Stadium

Report: Dome has only minor damage

August, 29, 2012
8/29/12
5:28
PM ET
Hurricane Isaac forced the Saints to leave New Orleans, but their home is safe.

Jeff Duncan reports that the Mercedes-Benz Superdome sustained only minimal damage from the storm. Doug Thornton, an executive with the company that manages the facility, said the Superdome will be ready for Tulane’s season-opening game. That’s more than a week ahead of the Saints’ first regular-season home game.

The stadium should be fine when the Saints open their season Sept. 9. Thornton said most of the stadium’s full-time employees are expected to return to work Thursday.

The Saints are scheduled to play their preseason finale at Tennessee on Thursday night. They originally had been scheduled to travel to Nashville on Wednesday. But, once it became clear the storm was headed in the direction of New Orleans, the Saints decided to change plans. They flew out Monday evening and went to Cincinnati (hotel space wasn't open in Nashville on Monday and Tuesday), where they practiced at Paul Brown Stadium on Tuesday and Wednesday, before leaving for Nashville.
As they’ve done all offseason, the New Orleans Saints have adjusted again.

With Hurricane Isaac headed toward New Orleans, the team gave players some time to get their families safely situated and then flew out of Louisiana on Monday night. Just as they’ve done with coach Sean Payton suspended for the season, the Saints are trying to keep things as close to normal as possible. They landed in Cincinnati on Monday night, had some meetings and then had more meetings and a practice at Paul Brown Stadium on Tuesday.

"This is a strong franchise. It's not built on two-by-fours and clay. It's built with cement and cinderblocks from the bottom up. We have the right people meet these challenges and we have the right leadership."

-- Joe Vitt
This is nothing new for the Saints. They evacuated New Orleans and went to Indianapolis when Hurricane Gustav was approaching in 2008. They had to move their headquarters to San Antonio after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

Assistant head coach Joe Vitt had an excellent quote when he addressed the media after the practice in Cincinnati.

“You have to draft a certain kind of player to play for us in New Orleans, because there are certain challenges,’’ Vitt said. “This organization went through a catastrophic thing in ’05 with Katrina and (general manager) Mickey Loomis and (owner Tom) Benson decided that they were going to draft and hire certain types of people that can deal with these storms. This is a strong franchise. It’s not built on two-by-fours and clay. It’s built with cement and cinderblocks from the bottom up. We have the right people meet these challenges and we have the right leadership.”

With the hurricane hitting their homes, the Saints are getting through things as well as possible by relying on the franchise’s foundation. That’s the same thing they’ll be doing as they go through a season without Payton.

The Saints will hold another practice in Cincinnati on Wednesday. After that, they’ll travel to Nashville, where they’ll play the Tennessee Titans in their preseason finale Thursday night.

“This is what it is,’’ Vitt said. “We’re going to play the hand we’re dealt. We have a game Thursday night. We’re going to prepare to play the game Thursday night. The people and our neighbors in New Orleans are in our thoughts and our prayers. The toughness and resiliency that our city shows is the same toughness and resiliency that our football team shows.”

Saints leaving early due to storm

August, 27, 2012
8/27/12
1:16
PM ET
With Tropical Storm Isaac in the Gulf of Mexico, the New Orleans Saints have changed plans once again.

The team already had canceled Monday’s practice and planned to fly out Tuesday for Thursday’s preseason game at Tennessee. Initially, the Saints had planned to leave for Tennessee on Wednesday.

But the Saints, who have plenty of experience in dealing with storms, have called another audible. Nakia Hogan reports the Saints now plan to leave New Orleans on Monday night. But they’re not going straight to Nashville.

Instead, they will fly to Cincinnati. The plan is for the Saints to practice at Paul Brown Stadium on Tuesday and also go through their regular meetings at that facility. The Saints will also hold a walk-through practice in Cincinnati on Wednesday morning and then head to Nashville.

Wrap-up: Bengals 19, Browns 17

December, 19, 2010
12/19/10
4:05
PM ET
Here are some thoughts on the Cincinnati Bengals' victory over the Cleveland Browns:

What it means: The Bengals broke their NFL-high 10-game losing streak against the same team that started it in October. Despite plenty of speculation about the future of the coaching staff and key players, Cincinnati stayed focused and improved to 3-11. Meanwhile, this is another ugly loss for the Browns (5-9), who have now fallen to the woeful Bengals and Bills in back-to-back weeks. Cleveland head coach Eric Mangini is on the hot seat and these two losses will weigh heavily against him in the eyes of Browns president Mike Holmgren.

What I liked: With the cold weather, Cincinnati went back to last year's formula that made the team successful. Bengals tailback Cedric Benson looked energized and rushed for a season-high 150 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries. Cincinnati also got rare contributions from young receivers Andre Caldwell (four catches for 89 yards) and Jerome Simpson (two catches for 30 yards), who have been M.I.A. this season. For Cleveland, rookie quarterback Colt McCoy handled the winter conditions pretty well and completed 19 of 25 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns. Browns receiver Brian Robiskie also had his second quality game of the season with five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown.

What I didn't like: For one of the few times this season, Cleveland was physically dominated in the trenches. The Browns couldn't stop Cincinnati's running game and couldn't run the ball effectively on offense, which was the difference in this game. Peyton Hillis ran for just 59 yards, as the Browns had just one rushing first down in the game. There's not much to dislike from the Bengals' perspective after finally getting back in the win column, other than the fact that winning hurts the team's draft position.

What's next: The Bengals will host the San Diego Chargers in the final home game of the season at Paul Brown Stadium. Barring an unexpected surge in ticket sales, it will be the fourth consecutive home blackout in Cincinnati. The Browns will end the season with back-to-back home games against AFC North rivals. First, Cleveland will host the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 26, then end the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Jan. 2.

NFC South Week 13 decisive moment

December, 7, 2010
12/07/10
1:00
PM ET
NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

There are certain general rules in football that always seem to hold true: Defense wins championships. Win the turnover battle and you’ll win. And, when playing the Cincinnati Bengals, just be patient -- they’ll find a way to lose.

Rule No. 3 came in very handy for the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. Trailing the Bengals 30-27, the Saints faced a fourth-and-2 deep inside Cincinnati territory. The easy decision would have been to kick the field goal, tie the game and take your chances in overtime.

But, remember, it’s the Bengals. Sean Payton kept his offense on the field and quarterback Drew Brees began directing guys in motion and barking out snap counts. It should have been obvious to anyone in the stadium or watching on television that the Saints were trying to draw the Bengals offside.

And, of course, the Bengals fell for it. Defensive tackle Pat Sims jumped into the neutral zone and drew a flag. That gave the Saints a first down.

On the very next play, Brees threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Marques Colston to give the Saints the win.

Wrap-up: Jets 26, Bengals 10

November, 25, 2010
11/25/10
11:45
PM ET
Here are some thoughts on the New York Jets' 26-10 victory against the Cincinnati Bengals:

What it means: Cincinnati lost its NFL-high eighth straight game, falling to 2-9. It also confirms the Bengals will have another losing season in 2010. This game looked like many of the other losses for Cincinnati. It involved turnovers, mental errors, and the inability to put together four solid quarters of football.

What I liked: Cincinnati played competitive in the first half and even led the Jets, 7-3, at intermission. But the better team eventually took over. The Bengals also got decent play from first-year defensive lineman Carlos Dunlap (two sacks) and rookie receiver Jordan Shipley (five receptions, 38 yards, one touchdown). These two are auditioning to become a core part of Cincinnati's rebuilding efforts in 2011.

What I didn't like: The Bengals were not ready to play in the second half for the second straight game. After giving up 35 unanswered points to the lowly Buffalo Bills last week, the Jets outscored Cincinnati 23-3 in the second half Thursday. Doing simple math, that means the Bengals have been outscored an astounding 58-3 after intermission in the past two weeks. The special teams also were horrendous for the Bengals, and quarterback Carson Palmer (135 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions) had his fifth multi-interception game of the season.

What's next: The brutal part of Cincinnati's schedule continues. After facing the 9-2 Jets, the Bengals will host the 8-3 New Orleans Saints Dec. 5 at Paul Brown Stadium. The good news is Cincinnati has 10 days to get healthy for the Saints, who also have an extended week after beating the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving. The game against New Orleans isn't sold out, so Cincinnati will need a surge in ticket sales to avoid its second straight blackout at home this season.
Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker

CINCINNATI -- One of the biggest routs of Week 7 came from a game most didn’t expect.

The Cincinnati Bengals romped the Chicago Bears with an easy 45-10 victory at Paul Brown Stadium. Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer threw for 233 yards and five touchdowns, while tailback Cedric Benson rushed for 189 yards and a touchdown against his former team.

Cincinnati put up more points and total yards (448) against the Bears than any opponent this season.

This matchup was considered a toss-up involving two playoff hopefuls. But the disparity makes you wonder if the Bengals (5-2) are even better than advertised, or if the Bears (3-3) are vastly overrated. Perhaps it’s a combination of the two.

Cincinnati enters its bye week happy and in a tie for first place in the AFC North with the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2). The Bengals own the head-to-head tiebreaker with Pittsburgh. The Bears, meanwhile, continue their AFC North slate with a game next week against the Cleveland Browns (1-6).

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker


CINCINNATI -- The Bengals are fighting for respect this season, and they made a tremendous step in the right direction with one of the most thrilling victories for the franchise in recent memory.

Cincinnati overcame a 13-point deficit in the first half to beat the defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers, 23-20, before a raucous crowd at Paul Brown Stadium. Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer threw a 4-yard touchdown pass with 14 second remaining to receiver Andre Caldwell to seal the win.

The victory snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Steelers (1-2) in Cincinnati, and it also puts the Bengals (2-1) in sole possession of second place in the AFC North. Both teams are currently chasing the undefeated Baltimore Ravens (3-0) in the division.

This is the second straight week the Steelers blew a fourth-quarter lead, as questions certainly linger about their early-season performance. The Bengals, meanwhile, are on a two-game winning streak and are living up to their billing as one of this year's surprise teams.

Steelers-Bengals halftime notes

September, 27, 2009
9/27/09
5:52
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker


CINCINNATI -- The Pittsburgh Steelers lead the Cincinnati Bengals, 13-3, at intermission.

Here are some first-half notes:
  • The Steelers did a good job of quieting the raucous home crowd in Paul Brown Stadium with a dominant first quarter. Pittsburgh led 10-0 after the first period as the offense sustained drives with 152 yards, and the defense held Cincinnati to minus-10 yards. The Bengals didn’t get their initial first down until early in the second quarter, where the home crowd gave the team a sarcastic round of applause.
  • Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin made a curious choice to go for it on fourth down at the end of the half, which ended up giving Cincinnati good field position. The Bengals turned the short field into a 34-yard field goal by Shayne Graham to cut the lead to 10 points after two quarters.
  • I'm really impressed so far with Pittsburgh tailback Willie Parker. As a speedy back, he felt that the turf in Cincinnati would help him this week, and Parker does look faster than the previous two games. Parker has 72 yards rushing and a 27-yard touchdown catch. Pittsburgh showed a few signs of turning the running game around in Week 2 and has looked dramatically improved in that area thus far.
  • There’s also a couple interesting notes regarding receivers in this game. Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco had three receptions in the first half and has notched a catch in 108 consecutive games. Pittsburgh’s Hines Ward (three catches, 61 yards) also became the first Steelers player to eclipse 10,000 receiving yards in his career.

Rumble in 'The Jungle'

September, 24, 2009
9/24/09
12:00
PM ET
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh; Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Hines Ward's Steelers travel to face Chad Ochocinco's Bengals in an early AFC North battle to keep up with the first-place Ravens.

Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker


CINCINNATI -- Several years ago, Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco compared the Pittsburgh Steelers to a black-and-white television.

Home away from home?
Including playoffs, the Steelers are 8-0 in Paul Brown Stadium since '02.
Year Score
2008 38-10
2007 24-13
2006 23-17
2005* 31-17
2005 27-13
2004 19-14
2003 17-10
2002 34-17
* Playoffs.
Ochocinco credited the Steelers' past success. But he believed their run was over and it was time for the division to be dominated by a colorful new team wearing bright orange.

Ochocinco’s prediction never came to fruition. The Steelers won the Super Bowl following the 2005 season -- the same year Ochocinco made that statement -- and this season they’re in the middle of another title defense.

But with both teams currently at .500, the table is set for a rumble in the "The Jungle" between the Steelers and Bengals on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. Pittsburgh -- which went 6-0 in the division last year -- is trying to maintain its dominance while the Bengals are fighting for leaguewide respect.

Although it’s early, this matchup will set the table for where both teams stand in the AFC North and could play a large role in altering the course of each team’s season. Pittsburgh has won five straight in this series and hasn’t lost in Cincinnati since 2001. But the Bengals can turn the tables with a marquee victory over the Steelers this Sunday.

"Everybody knows it’s a big game," Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer said. "Every division game [is big]. You combine that with your first division home game, and you combine that with they’re the defending champs, it’s a recipe for a big game."

Bengals fighting back

The Bengals showed a lot of heart in last week’s 31-24 road win over the Green Bay Packers (1-1). Cincinnati was a huge underdog coming off a heartbreaking loss in Week 1 to the Denver Broncos, but the Bengals overcame early mistakes and imposed their will on Green Bay to pull off the upset.

The Bengals, who have a reputation as a finesse team, have worked extremely hard on being more physically imposing because that’s what it takes to win in their division. This offseason Cincinnati acquired thumpers on defense such as safety Roy Williams, defensive lineman Tank Johnson and impressive rookie outside linebacker Rey Maualuga. Tailback Cedric Benson also is dictating the pace offensively and pounding the ball to the tune of 108.5 rushing yards per game.

With a revitalized running game and an aggressive defense, Cincinnati is building the same successful blueprint that AFC North stalwarts Pittsburgh and the Baltimore Ravens have used in the past. Through two games the Bengals are rated No. 11 in total defense, two spots behind Pittsburgh, and are leading the NFL with nine sacks, which is turning some heads.

"Our offense hasn’t even caught up to our defense just as far as level of play. They are ahead of us by so much," said Ochocinco, who believes this is the best defense he's played with in Cincinnati. "I’d say by Week 5 or 6 we will be clicking on all cylinders."

Lately, Cincinnati's defense has been getting a lot of praise for its play. But typical of any coach, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis says the accolades are premature.

"To talk about it now really doesn’t make any sense," Lewis said of his defense. "The end of the year is how you’re judged. What you do through 16 games is how you’re judged. At the end of the year, we can sit and have a long discussion about it."

Revenge factor?

Scott Boehm/Getty Images
Keith Rivers indicated that revenge will not be on his mind when he and the Bengals face the Steelers this weekend.
As with any rivalry, there are interesting subplots.

This is the first meeting for Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers against Pittsburgh since wide receiver Hines Ward broke his jaw with a crushing block last year. The play, which was legal at the time, ended Rivers’ rookie season and prompted a rule change in the offseason to prevent blindside blocks.

But that was of little solace for Rivers, who spent months trying to get back to his natural playing weight after being unable to eat solid foods initially.

Does Ward anticipate being a target Sunday?

"Each and every game I know I'm hunted," Ward told Pittsburgh reporters this week. "Each and every game I play in, I think they're hunted too. It is what it is; I'm not going to get into it with revenge factor or be scared."

Rivers fended off a flurry of questions about Ward from the media this week. He has been very careful not to give the Steelers any bulletin-board material.

"It’s over," Rivers said succinctly. "We play them again and [I want to] have a good season."

In an important game for both teams, Ward said he doesn’t believe Rivers will go out of his way to exact revenge for last year’s hit.

"If he's worried about me, he's not worried about the 10 other guys or his responsibilities," Ward said. "He's going to do his responsibility, and if I've got the ball I'm pretty sure he's going to try to take a shot on me. It's no different than if that same particular play happened again, I'm going to take my shot at him."

Expect the Bengals and Steelers to take plenty of shots in what should be a very physical game.

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