Pittsburgh at Cincinnati Game Preview

Breakdown preview of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals battle in week-three of the NFL season.

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)


KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET


TV: CBS, Gus Johnson, Brent Jones

SERIES: 65th meeting. The Pittsburgh Steelers lead 38-27 over the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals have played more games against the Steelers than any franchise other than the Tennessee/Houston, 68. The Bengals have a 17-15 edge over the Steelers in Cincinnati.


2003 RANKINGS: Steelers: offense 7th (27th rush, 2nd pass); defense 5th (23rd rush, 5th pass). Bengals: offense 8th (20th rush, 6th pass); defense 10th (28th rush, 2nd pass)


KEYS TO THE GAME: The Steelers have the No. 1 offense in the AFC, but they have scored just two touchdowns in six red zone possessions. To better take advantage of the Bengals' secondary, QB Tommy Maddox needs to get third WR Antwaan Randle El more involved. He

has just four receptions through two games after catching 47 passes last season. Cincinnati has the No. 2 offense in the AFC, and must control the clock to protect its defense. Not only does that mean a heavy dose of RB Corey Dillon, but QB Jon Kitna can't afford the

costly turnovers he's prone to.


FAST FACTS: Steelers: Coach Bill Cowher is 16-6 against the Bengals.... RB Jerome Bettis has 10 100-yard games against Cincinnati.... WR Plaxico Burress has 18 receptions for 289 yards in the past three meetings. Bengals: WR Peter Warrick leads the AFC with seven receptions on third down. ... WR had 14 receptions for 223 yards in the two meetings last season.




-- LB Clark Haggans will lose his starting job now that Joey Porter is back, but Haggans could return in some pass defenses. Haggans started at right OLB in the first two games and played right rush end in the nickel defense.

-- RB Verron Haynes remains questionable and may not play on third downs in Cincinnati. Starting RB Amos Zereoue would likely add to his duties by playing on third downs, a job he held last year when Jerome Bettis was the starting RB.

-- S Troy Polamalu looks lost playing in the nickel and dime defenses. Their first-round draft choice could not win a starting job as expected and is struggling against the pass as a deep safety.

-- LB Kendrell Bell is off to a slow start. He has just seven tackles and no sacks even though he's playing every down on defense.

-- SS Mike Logan resumed practice on Thursday after missing Wednesday with a bruised quad. He will play. He leads the Steelers with three passes defensed and is third on the team with 11 tackles.



-- RB Corey Dillon (knee) wore a sleeve on his right knee but did practice Thursday. He remains probable for Sunday's game against the Steelers.

-- CB Tory James (virus) missed his second day of practice and is probable.

-- G Victor Leyva (chest muscle) was upgraded to probable.

-- RB Rudi Johnson (thigh) was upgraded to probable.

-- TE Matt Schobel (hamstring) remains questionable.




Joey Porter's comeback from a gunshot wound to starting linebacker in three weeks isn't a miracle, but it's astounding to him and many around him. Porter was upgraded to probable on Thursday and will start against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.


A 9mm bullet passed through his buttocks and lodged in his right thigh on Aug. 31 when he was shot randomly outside a popular sports bar in downtown Denver. The bullet was removed the next day in Pittsburgh and Porter will have missed just two games, not half the season as many predicted when he was first shot.


Porter went through two full practices Wednesday and Thursday and said he felt good.


"I'm definitely blessed," Porter said. "God is good. He definitelytouched me and put me in a situation now that lets me put everything in front of me that means something, lets me know where life stands. I'm just happy to be here. What I've come through and having the chance

to go out there and do what I love to do best, play football, 20 days after what happened is actually amazing."


Said coach Bill Cowher: "It's amazing. Where he is at today, where he's been ... everything kept getting positive. We kept waiting for that one little setback. It was almost too good to be true. Now he is out there, and even at the end of last week he was getting ornery and lobbying. Three weeks ago when we first got the news and to think he would be where he is today -- it's an amazing story."



Coach Marvin Lewis says emotion goes about "this far" and holds his thumb and index an inch apart. His Bengals got caught up in the emotion of opening day in Cincinnati and lost 30-10 to Denver.


Last week, at Oakland's notorious Network Associates Coliseum, the Bengals did not get distracted and should have won the game, before losing 23-20. They had fun because they played well.


Now, with rival Pittsburgh playing at Cincinnati on Sunday, Lewis again is preaching to his players that they can't get caught up in the excitement of the day.


"If you know what you're doing, you have fun doing it and it enables you to be intense," Lewis said after Thursday's practice. "When you don't know what you're doing, you become more tentative and you have to guess.


"We've got to handle it this week because there's going to be a surge. It's going to be an energetic day again on Sunday. It's going to be a jazzed-up crowd. Our guys have to keep their wits about them, stay focused on their jobs and play football."

Scout NFL Network Top Stories