Steelers cry: 'Here we go, Bengals'
Share with others:
After winning in Cincinnati Sunday, the Steelers will rank among the Bengals' biggest fans this weekend. The winner of Cincinnati's game at Baltimore will tie the Steelers for first place in the AFC North Division, and it is no surprise they would rather it be the Bengals.
"I'm a fan this weekend," said defensive captain James Farrior. "I've got to be pulling for the Bengals this weekend, don't I? We need the Bengals to mix it up a little bit. We're going to shake up this race, try to keep it close to the end and win it at the end."
Pulling for one division opponent over another may be distasteful to them, but the Steelers (7-3) need someone to beat Baltimore (6-3, like the Bengals) at least one more time for them to have a chance to win the division. They cannot do it because they already have lost twice to the Ravens. If they finish in a tie, the division title goes to Baltimore.
The Steelers, however, are in control when it comes to the Bengals, who will visit Heinz Field for their second game Dec. 4. Before the past weekend, the Steelers needed Baltimore to lose twice but Seattle took care of one with an upset victory against the Ravens.
- Game: Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs, Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.
- When: 8:20 p.m., Nov. 27.
- TV: WPXI.
- The skinny: The Steelers can expect to face former Pitt and West Allegheny High School QB Tyler Palko, who has replaced the injured Matt Cassel.
"That helped us out," Farrior said. "Any time they lose a game, it's going to help us out tremendously. But we have to take care of our business, we can't really focus on who they're playing and how they're playing. We just have to take care of the things we can control."
Even if the Ravens lose once, the Steelers must win their remaining six games in order to finish ahead of them, win the division title and secure one of the two playoff seeds in the AFC, with a bye and home games that go with it.
But, perhaps, playing at home in the playoffs does not mean that much anymore. Before 2005, no team had played all its playoff games on the road and won a Super Bowl. The Steelers were the first to do it in '05 and, since then, the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers have followed suit.
"I definitely think it's still important," Farrior said. "We've had teams in the past that did it [on the road]. We've done it. Green Bay did it last year. But, when you play at home, it's a different feel. You still have to go out and play the game, but it's definitely a better feeling to have your home crowd and have that be an advantage for you in the game."
So, Farrior and his teammates will pull for Cincinnati Sunday.
Hines Ward's loss is Antonio Brown's gain, and no receiver in the AFC has gained as many yards on third down as the second-year player from Central Michigan.
Brown made his first NFL start Sunday in Cincinnati for the demoted Ward, but he made his impact on the field earlier. His 18 third-down receptions are more than any receiver in the AFC as are his 282 yards on those plays.
"It's just the trust in my quarterback and the relationship and repertoire we're building," Brown said of Ben Roethlisberger. "And him trusting me in key situations when we need a play to move the chains. It's a tremendous accolade, and we want to continue to get better and build on it."
Brown is the first sixth-round draft choice to make such an impact with the Steelers since starting guard Chris Kemoeatu was selected in '05. Among other sixth-rounders who either never made it or did not stick around long were center Marvin Philip ('06), linebacker Mike Humpal ('08), defensive end Sonny Harris ('09) and guard Keith Williams ('11). Safety Ryan Mundy ('06) and halfback Jonathan Dwyer -- picked in the sixth round ahead of Brown in '10 -- are backups with the Steelers. The Steelers traded their sixth-round draft choice in '07 to move up in the fourth round to draft punter Daniel Sepulveda.
Brown does not regret his choice to enter the draft after his junior season at Central Michigan.
"I felt I did everything from a college standpoint. I think I was ready."
The NFL was not so sure because sixth-round draft picks often do not make it.
"I was a little upset about that, but I don't dwell in that moment," Brown said. "It's not where you start, it's where you finish."
Sunday was a start, his first, and likely not his last.
First Published November 17, 2011 12:00 am