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Tomlin Report - Bengals Week

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Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has only been beaten once by a rookie quarterback since his return to Pittsburgh in 2004. He and his record will be tested by the 6-2 Cincinnati Bengals and their standout rookie signal-caller, Andy Dalton

2011 Week 10
NEXT GAME
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) at
Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, OH
Sunday, November 13 – 1:00 PM on CBS

LAST WEEK
Bengals: Andy Dalton tossed three touchdowns and the Cincinnati defense pitched a second-half shutout to help the Bengals to a 24-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans. It was Cincinnati’s fifth-straight win.

Steelers: James Harrison returned to action and looked like his 2008 self, racking up three sacks and a forced fumble, but Pittsburgh's defense faltered when it mattered most and Baltimore's Joe Flacco drove 92 yards in a little over two minutes for a 26-yard touchdown to Torrey Smith, capping off a 23-20 win for the Ravens, who completed a sweep of the Steelers this season.

BEHIND ENEMY LINES
A Look Around the AFC North
Baltimore (6-2) is now tied with Cincinnati for the lead in the AFC North, but hold a tiebreaker over the Bengals for first with two division wins (both against the Steelers) to Cincinnati’s one. Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith stood out in Sunday’s victory over the Steelers, but for different reasons.

Flacco finally put in an elite performance, leading his team 92 yards for the game-winning touchdown against a hated rival. He also racked up 300 yards against a pass defense that has been statistically dominant this season. For Smith, it was all about redemption. The rookie began his day with a hold that wiped out a 76-yard touchdown for Ray Rice. He dropped a number of passes during the game, including an end zone shot on the final drive, before hauling in the game-winner.

The Ravens will travel across the country to Seattle and will face the Seahawks (2-6), who have already been beaten by the rest of the AFC North.

Cleveland (3-5) churned out a measley 172 yards in a 30-12 drubbing at the hands of the Houston Texans. The defense also allowed two opposing rushers (Ben Tate and Arian Foster) to rack up over 100 rushing yards in the loss.

The team’s veterans reportedly held a private meeting with RB Peyton Hillis, who has been a distraction with recent squabbles over a new contract. He tweaked his hamstring before last week’s game, though, and both he and backup Montario Hardesty will be out for a second straight week.

Cleveland needs to get its house in order fast. They’ll draw St. Louis (1-7) this week and Jacksonville in week 11. However, the Browns schedule turns hellish Thanksgiving weekend. In a six-week span to finish the season, they’ll play Cincinnati, Pittsburgh (twice), and Baltimore (twice).

MIKE LIKED…
The performance of Jason Worilds, given the circumstances, in what was his first career start.

STEELERS INJURY UPDATE
P Daniel Sepulveda was placed on IR with a knee injury prior to Sunday’s game. He was replaced by Jeremy Kapinos, who spent time with the team last season.

WR Emmanuel Sanders had surgery to clean out his knee and will miss a few weeks.

LBs LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) and James Farrior (calf) will have their availability determined by how they practice during the week. Consider both QUESTIONABLE at this point in the week.

WRs Hines Ward left Sunday’s game with concussion-like symptoms. He andfellow-receiver Arnaz Battle are QUESTIONABLE for Sunday.

WR Jerricho Cotchery has some swelling in his knee, but should be PROBABLE against the Bengals. Likewise for LB Stevenson Sylvester, who is dealing with the same issue.

NT Chris Hoke (stinger) could have returned last week but the team only dressed five linemen. He should be good to go this weekend.

BENGALS INJURY UPDATE
The Bengals expect that TE Jermaine Gresham (hamstring) will be able to return to practice Wednesday, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis expects that LB Rey Maualuga (ankle) will return to practice Wednesday, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

DE Carlos Dunlap had two big second-half sacks for the Bengals in their Week 9 win over Tennessee, but left with an injured hamstring, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

All three are listed as QUESTIONABLE at this point in the week.

MAIN STORYLINE FOR SUNDAY
Will Pittsburgh continue its dominance against rookie quarterbacks, or will Andy Dalton buck the trend and join Baltimore’s Troy Smith (in a meaningless 2007 finale) as the only rookie signal callers to earn a win against a Dick-LeBeau defense?

BENGALS TO WATCH
QB Andy Dalton – In a year without Cam Newton, Dalton might be a shoo-in for rookie of the year. He’ll just have to settle for six wins in his first eight games instead. Dalton has really only faced one quality defense this season (a loss to the 49ers) and has yet to play the Steelers or the Ravens, so he’s relatively untested against top-tier units.

WR A.J. Green – In a year without Cam Newton and Andy Dalton, Green might be a shoo-in for rookie of the year. He’ll just have to settle for the fourth-best eight-game start by a receiver with 599 yards. Only Marques Colston (700), Anquan Boldin (672), and Charlie Brown (662) had better numbers in their first half-season. Green has size, he has speed, and he has amazing ball skills. As such, he’s Dalton’s favorite target and the primary catalyst for Cincinnati’s passing game.

DE/LB Michael Johnson – Guys like Thomas Howard and Nate Clements might get more attention, but Johnson could serve as the defense’s wild-card. The versatile defender can line up as a defensive end or a linebacker and boasts freakish athleticism on a 6’7” frame. If he gets his hands in the passing lane, he could end up tipping Ben into an interception.

LOCAL CONNECTIONS
• Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis was born in McDonald, Pa., thirty minutes southwest of Pittsburgh. Lewis coached for the University of Pittsburgh from 1990-1991. Lewis also served as the Steelers linebackers coach from 1992-1995.
• Bengals assistant head coach/offensive line coach Paul Alexander coached at Penn State University from 1982-1984.
• Bengals defensive line coach Jay Hayes and tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes, who are brothers, were born in South Fayette, Pa., just minutes southwest of Pittsburgh. Jonathan coached with the Steelers from 1994-1996 and Jay coached with the Steelers from 1999-2001.
• Bengals wide receivers coach James Urban coached at local Clarion University from 1997-1998.
• Bengals QB Bruce Gradkowski was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. He attended local Seton-LaSalle High School, where he set then-WPIAL and PIAA by throwing 30 touchdowns in a single season.
• Bengals WR Andrew Hawkins was born in Johnstown, Pa.
• Bengals C/G Mike McGlynn attended the University of Pittsburgh. He started at right tackle for the Panthers from 2004-2007.
 
ACCORDING TO TOMLIN
“I thought we had a couple of opportunities there, like you always do, to potentially end it or to make a splash. I thought we had them moving very early in the drive, in the pocket. We had a swipe at the ball that we missed. We had a third down and one. We had our hands on the football. We had a fourth down and one that the ball just reached the outstretched fingertips of a defensive lineman in the rush lane, and they completed it to Anquan Boldin. To make a long story short, they made all of the necessary plays and we missed a few of them by a hair. That is the story of those moments, and if you are going to seize those moments you have to make those plays. They did, and we didn’t.” On the game-winning drive by Baltimore, in which the Ravens drove 92 yards in under two-and-a-half minutes to score with eight seconds left on the clock.

“What we were attempting to do was a fourth down and five situation. We were going to utilize the cadence like we did in Arizona and try to pick up an extra five. I was explaining that process to Jeremy Kapinos, and quite simply didn’t get it lined up in time. I wasn’t interested in burning or utilizing a time out because of the time left in the game. Since we weren’t able to get that opportunity to maybe get a free first down, we decided to punt and put them 90-plus yards away from pay dirt with a four point lead. So we were pretty comfortable with the end result. Of course, the process could have been a little bit cleaner. Those are things that occur, I guess, sometimes when you work with new people, especially specialists. I accept responsibility for that. I should have handled that cleaner but I didn’t. I still feel comfortable with the end result, but hopefully we will learn from that as well like we did some of the other errors that we had in the game.” Discussing what happened when the team took a delay of game penalty before the punt leading up to the final drive by Baltimore. The team originally looked to be attempting a field goal, but came out to punt after the delay of game.

“He has been pretty rock solid.  And I have looked at game one all the way up to last week’s performance and in his very first game, his opener, you see him looking at the safety, moving him with his eyes and throwing a vertical down the field to (Jermaine) Gresham. So I think if you are talking about if he is growing over the course of the season, I think that is just something that you are looking for.  I think he has shown to be a pretty mature signal caller from the onset.” On Bengals’ rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, who has 12 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions while leading his team to a 6-2 record.

“We will let the week sort it out for us like we always will.  If something needs to be done, more than likely it will be done in-house.” Discussing the team’s receiving corps, which is now short Emmanuel Sanders while other pass-catchers are nicked up. The team does have Tyler Grisham waiting on the practice squad.

LOOK FOR…
The team’s linebacker situation to be sorted out by Sunday. If both Woodley and Farrior are unable to go, look for Timmons and Worilds to start. If Woodley is in and Farrior is out, Timmons will remain in the middle. If Woodley is out and Farrior is in, he’ll fill the middle while Timmons kicks outside again.

SPLASH TALK
“No, I’m not comfortable, and I’m not looking for comfort. That’s not how we live. I think it is important that we understand the urgency of this moment, and the gravity of the preparation that awaits us this week, and that we right this thing and quickly get back to winning football.  Now, that is easier said than done, because obviously we have an opponent waiting for us that has made winning a habit, particularly over the last five weeks. So we are sensitive to that, we respect that, and by no means are we looking to find comfort in our situation.” When asked if he is comfortable knowing his team is experienced enough to be able to move on from the tough loss.

 “Hines is always fighting to get back into the game, but we are going to do what is best for him, even if he doesn’t want us to.” On wide receiver Hines Ward trying to get back into the game against Baltimore after coming off the field with concussion-like symptoms after a helmet-to-helmet hit by Ray Lewis.

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMM…
Courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau:

Ben Roethlisberger reached the 25,000-yard mark on Sunday night, and he did so in fewer passes (3,109) than any player in NFL history except Kurt Warner (3,076). Only three other players held that mark, and they were the first three players ever to pass for 25K yards: Bobby Layne, Y.A. Tittle, and Johnny Unitas, who held the record from 1965 until Warner broke it in 2008.

Bonus: In terms of games, Ben reached the 25,000-yard mark in his 108th game and 107th start. The fastest to reach that plateau in terms of games? Former Pitt-star Dan Marino, who notched his 25,000th yard in the 92nd game of his career.

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