In 2009, down 5, the Bengals took over at their 29 with 5:14 left and drove to the Pittsburgh 15 where they had a first down with 48 seconds remaining.
In 2010, down 6, the Bengals took over at their 36 with 3:59 left and drove to the Pittsburgh 17 where they had a first down with 1:01 remaining.
In 2009, the Bengals were looking at fourth-and-10 with 36 seconds left. Brian Leonard came out of the backfield, took a pass from Carson Palmer, and beat James Farrior for a first down. The Bengals scored the winning touchdown two plays later.
In 2010, the Bengals were looking at fourth-and-5 with 40 seconds left. Farrior was all over the back before he could get out of the backfield, and Palmer threw to his slot receiver, who dropped the pass and the game.
This one was eerily similar to that one, Farrior thought as he watched film the next day. "It definitely was a feeling of déjà vu," he said.
The 14-year veteran gets that feeling more and more these days, but one game he hasn't seen again is the first one he played with the Steelers. That was back in 2002 when the Steelers opened the season on a Monday night at the home of the defending champions. The New England Patriots and their quarterback Tom Brady opened that game with a spread alignment and didn't get out of it until the Steelers had suffered enough.
Brady called 36 passes on the first 45 plays and by the middle of the third quarter the Patriots had a 24-7 lead on their way to a 30-13 win. What was Farrior thinking that day?
"What did I get myself into?" he said. "They came out and threw the ball like 100 times in a row. I'd never been in a game like that. Still haven't been in a game like that. It was definitely a wake-up call for me."
Farrior thought he knew the complex Buck linebacker position before that first game. Or, rather, he made his coaches think he knew the position.
"I was pretending," he said. "And I was a long ways away. I guess I got exposed a little bit that game."
Farrior, of course, has come a long way. He's even overcome the public doubts about his aging skills after Leonard beat him last year in Cincinnati.
The way Farrior played this past Monday night in Cincinnati, he might even be a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year.
He, of course, won't allow himself such grand thoughts, not with Brady and the Patriots on deck. Brady has gone 5-1 against the Steelers, starting with the AFC Championship Game the season prior to Farrior's arrival. But Farrior's been on the field for the other four losses and understands why Brady and his precision passing game matches up so well against a Steelers defense that espouses the mantra that teams can't throw underneath their cushions all the way down the field without making a mistake.
Brady, of course, rarely makes mistakes.
"They're still probably the most dangerous offensive team," Farrior said. "They're still the standard."
And the Steelers' defense?
"I think we've evolved a little bit more over the years," Farrior said. "But I definitely think they could dink and dunk their way down the field. We're going to have to have some things to combat that, particularly when they go empty. That might be a big part of their game plan so we're definitely preparing for it and we'll be looking for it."
Do the Steelers have something in store for Brady and the Patriots?
"I think we've got a good plan for them," Farrior said.