Game Day Matchups

Neal Coolong has the top matchups of tonight's Steelers-Bengals game.

CB Ike Taylor vs. WR A.J. Green

Teams have attacked Taylor early and often in all five of the Steelers games this season. After that, he'll face easily his toughest assignment of the season to date. Green has 22 catches, 317 yards and 4 touchdowns in the Bengals' last three games. The Steelers showed a lot of Cover 1 in their 26-23 loss at Tennessee in Week 6, leaving Taylor without reasonable safety help outside the numbers. While it's likely they'll have Taylor shadow Green, they could use more Cover 2 looks to help take away the sideline. The Steelers do not have an interception outside the numbers this year.

Green, in only his second year, is arguably as talented as any other receiver in the game. He's got size and speed, and has already improved quite a bit from his rookie year in terms of route-running. It will be difficult for the Steelers defense to contain him, but the frequency in which QB Andy Dalton looks his way could lead to an interception or two.

RT Mike Adams vs. DE Carlos Dunlap

Adams gets his first career start over the injured Marcus Gilbert, and he'll immediately have the difficult assignment of handling the athletic Dunlap in certain situations. The Bengals move their defensive ends and linebackers around the formation depending on the situation, and Dunlap is a pass-rushing machine. Stands to reason they'd try to get him over the rookie on passing downs.

Adams had a shaky preseason, leaving few with the feeling he was capable of a starting job, but much like Gilbert did his rookie year he'll undergo a baptism by fire. Gilbert, though, got his first start at home, Adams gets his on a road prime-time game in the same state where he went to college (Ohio State).

TE Heath Miller vs. LB Rey Maualuga

Maualuga hasn't missed a snap this season, but he hasn't played well in too many of them, either. Miller is a tough assignment for any linebacker, but the Steelers will be looking to get him toward the middle of the field and get him positioned on the shorter Maualuga.

Miller has drawn two defenders on every Steelers pass in the red zone the last three games and it opens up the rest of the offense. Pittsburgh even had its first touchdown run from inside the 5-yard line since Week 2 against the Jets when Baron Batch took it in from a yard out against the Titans. Miller's presence can help that, but they will look to get him the ball in the back of the end zone as well, where his height and his hands give him a big advantage over the cover-challenge Maualuga.

OLB LaMarr Woodley vs. RT Andre Smith

It's becoming one of the better pass rushing/protection battles in the AFC North. Smith has been steadily improving the last two seasons, and has a score to settle with Woodley. The Steelers got loads of pressure over Smith in a 27-21 win over Cincinnati in Week 9 of the 2010 season. Woodley's hamstring kept him out of almost all of the Steelers' two wins last year.

He'll see a better Smith this year, who's allowed one sack in 256 pass blocking attempts this season. Woodley will be active in Week 7 after missing the Titans game with a hamstring injury. He has 2 sacks this season, and must be the catalyst of a dominant Steelers pass rush against the Bengals. The best pass coverage is an outstanding pass rush, and Pittsburgh has to keep the ball out of Green's hands if they're going to stay in this game.


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