No frills for Steelers

The Steelers didn't get cute with the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. They used a physical defense to deliver a 24-13 win in the biggest game of the season.

CINCINNATI – Legend has it that in the tunnel before Super Bowl IX, Steelers free safety Glenn Edwards turned to one of the Minnesota receivers and warned: "You'd better buckle up."

Steelers free safety Anthony Smith updated that before Sunday's game when he talked to Cincinnati receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

"I just told them to make sure they had their mouthpiece in," Smith said.

And their reply?

"Chad told me he doesn't wear one," Smith said. "I told him he'd better start." It would've helped -- not on the scoreboard, of course, but with Johnson's gold-tooth display.

Gold teeth -- that's what Troy Polamalu was picking up off the Paul Brown Stadium grass in the fourth quarter. Johnson took them from Polamalu and then collapsed, and the Bengals' season collapsed with him.

"We had a simple plan, really: no frills," said Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin. "And the guys executed to the letter."

On defense, that meant the defensive backs played cover 2 and kept Johnson and Houshmandzadeh in front of them. And when that happens …

"The more we can stay on top of the ball and keep everything in front of us, the more big plays we're going to make," said Polamalu.

Those big plays came from the delivery of several savage hits by the likes of Smith, who excelled in his second start this season as a replacement for injured Ryan Clark.

Smith warned them, and then he hit them – repeatedly.

"The difference maker, when you're playing an explosive team like that, is being physical," said cornerback Deshea Townsend. "We have some guys who like to go out and hit and like to go out and cover."

Smith assuredly is one of them. A week after the Steelers allowed young Jay Cutler and his neophyte Broncos receivers 234 passing yards, the Steelers held Carson Palmer and his polished receivers to 205 yards in a 24-13 win. The plan was as obvious as it was painful.

"(Saturday) night, Coach Ray (Horton) gave this great synopsis of how these guys (Bengals) really feel about us," Townsend said. "Some of the guys probably used that as motivation."

The Steelers' DBs provoked the Bengals' receivers verbally and then smacked them around. Townsend was asked how Johnson and Houshmandzadeh handled the adversity.

"Those guys don't want to get hit hard," he said. "If you can start pounding on them, that's when you'll see them start to drop some passes, or start to look at you more than looking the ball in."

While Houshmandzadeh pulled in a nine-yard fourth-quarter pass for the Bengals' only touchdown, Johnson dropped a third-down pass to start the second half and later dropped a deep pass an instant before losing his teeth.

"It goes hand in hand," Townsend said. "When the offense starts to put some points on the board, we start to tell the guys to start hitting them and see how it ends up."

It ended up with the Steelers winning their biggest game of the year the old-fashioned way -- with a physical defense.

"To hold that offense to 13 points, on the road, in the type of situation they were in, hats go off to those guys," said Tomlin.


Steel City Insider Top Stories

\r\n\r\nCINCINNATI – Legend has it that in the tunnel before Super Bowl IX, Steelers free safety Glenn Edwards turned to one of the Minnesota receivers and warned: \"You'd better buckle up.\"\r\n\r\n

\r\n\r\nSteelers free safety Anthony Smith updated that before Sunday's game when he talked to Cincinnati receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

\r\n\r\n\"I just told them to make sure they had their mouthpiece in,\" Smith said.

\r\n\r\nAnd their reply?

\r\n\r\n\"Chad told me he doesn't wear one,\" Smith said. \"I told him he'd better start.\"\r\n\r\nIt would've helped -- not on the scoreboard, of course, but with Johnson's gold-tooth display.

\r\n\r\nGold teeth -- that's what Troy Polamalu was picking up off the Paul Brown Stadium grass in the fourth quarter. Johnson took them from Polamalu and then collapsed, and the Bengals' season collapsed with him.

\r\n\r\n\"We had a simple plan, really: no frills,\" said Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin. \"And the guys executed to the letter.\"

\r\n\r\nOn defense, that meant the defensive backs played cover 2 and kept Johnson and Houshmandzadeh in front of them. And when that happens …

\r\n\r\n\"The more we can stay on top of the ball and keep everything in front of us, the more big plays we're going to make,\" said Polamalu.

\r\n\r\nThose big plays came from the delivery of several savage hits by the likes of Smith, who excelled in his second start this season as a replacement for injured Ryan Clark.

\r\n\r\nSmith warned them, and then he hit them – repeatedly.

\r\n\r\n\"The difference maker, when you're playing an explosive team like that, is being physical,\" said cornerback Deshea Townsend. \"We have some guys who like to go out and hit and like to go out and cover.\"

\r\n\r\nSmith assuredly is one of them. A week after the Steelers allowed young Jay Cutler and his neophyte Broncos receivers 234 passing yards, the Steelers held Carson Palmer and his polished receivers to 205 yards in a 24-13 win. The plan was as obvious as it was painful.

\r\n\r\n\"(Saturday) night, Coach Ray (Horton) gave this great synopsis of how these guys (Bengals) really feel about us,\" Townsend said. \"Some of the guys probably used that as motivation.\"

\r\n\r\nThe Steelers' DBs provoked the Bengals' receivers verbally and then smacked them around. Townsend was asked how Johnson and Houshmandzadeh handled the adversity.

\r\n\r\n\"Those guys don't want to get hit hard,\" he said. \"If you can start pounding on them, that's when you'll see them start to drop some passes, or start to look at you more than looking the ball in.\"

\r\n\r\nWhile Houshmandzadeh pulled in a nine-yard fourth-quarter pass for the Bengals' only touchdown, Johnson dropped a third-down pass to start the second half and later dropped a deep pass an instant before losing his teeth.

\r\n\r\n\"It goes hand in hand,\" Townsend said. \"When the offense starts to put some points on the board, we start to tell the guys to start hitting them and see how it ends up.\"

\r\n\r\nIt ended up with the Steelers winning their biggest game of the year the old-fashioned way -- with a physical defense.

\r\n\r\n\"To hold that offense to 13 points, on the road, in the type of situation they were in, hats go off to those guys,\" said Tomlin.

","mobileBody":" CINCINNATI – Legend has it that in the tunnel before Super Bowl IX, Steelers free safety Glenn Edwards turned to one of the Minnesota receivers and warned: \"You'd better buckle up.\"

Steelers free safety Anthony Smith updated that before Sunday's game when he talked to Cincinnati receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

\"I just told them to make sure they had their mouthpiece in,\" Smith said.

And their reply?

\"Chad told me he doesn't wear one,\" Smith said. \"I told him he'd better start.\" It would've helped -- not on the scoreboard, of course, but with Johnson's gold-tooth display.

Gold teeth -- that's what Troy Polamalu was picking up off the Paul Brown Stadium grass in the fourth quarter. Johnson took them from Polamalu and then collapsed, and the Bengals' season collapsed with him.

\"We had a simple plan, really: no frills,\" said Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin. \"And the guys executed to the letter.\"

On defense, that meant the defensive backs played cover 2 and kept Johnson and Houshmandzadeh in front of them. And when that happens …

\"The more we can stay on top of the ball and keep everything in front of us, the more big plays we're going to make,\" said Polamalu.

Those big plays came from the delivery of several savage hits by the likes of Smith, who excelled in his second start this season as a replacement for injured Ryan Clark.

Smith warned them, and then he hit them – repeatedly.

\"The difference maker, when you're playing an explosive team like that, is being physical,\" said cornerback Deshea Townsend. \"We have some guys who like to go out and hit and like to go out and cover.\"

Smith assuredly is one of them. A week after the Steelers allowed young Jay Cutler and his neophyte Broncos receivers 234 passing yards, the Steelers held Carson Palmer and his polished receivers to 205 yards in a 24-13 win. The plan was as obvious as it was painful.

\"(Saturday) night, Coach Ray (Horton) gave this great synopsis of how these guys (Bengals) really feel about us,\" Townsend said. \"Some of the guys probably used that as motivation.\"

The Steelers' DBs provoked the Bengals' receivers verbally and then smacked them around. Townsend was asked how Johnson and Houshmandzadeh handled the adversity.

\"Those guys don't want to get hit hard,\" he said. \"If you can start pounding on them, that's when you'll see them start to drop some passes, or start to look at you more than looking the ball in.\"

While Houshmandzadeh pulled in a nine-yard fourth-quarter pass for the Bengals' only touchdown, Johnson dropped a third-down pass to start the second half and later dropped a deep pass an instant before losing his teeth.

\"It goes hand in hand,\" Townsend said. \"When the offense starts to put some points on the board, we start to tell the guys to start hitting them and see how it ends up.\"

It ended up with the Steelers winning their biggest game of the year the old-fashioned way -- with a physical defense.

\"To hold that offense to 13 points, on the road, in the type of situation they were in, hats go off to those guys,\" said Tomlin.

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