Tale Of The Tape: Pittsburgh Steelers At Cincinnati Bengals
- QuarterbackBen Roethlisberger struggled along with the Steelers’ offense in Week One and there’s no reason to expect that kind of performance again. Roethlisberger’s size and strength makes him difficult to sack and he is surprisingly nimble for a man his size. Since Roethlisberger can keep plays alive and make plays on the run, he is capable of turning any game in Pittsburgh’s favor.Andy Dalton couldn’t bring home the victory in Week One, but he has a quick release and is usually an excellent decision maker. Dalton has excellent command of the Bengals’ offense and he is an accurate passer who can usually throw the ball in the tightest windows.
- OffenseThe Steelers could be in trouble on offense this season as the running game is struggling and the loss of Mike Wallace takes away much of their big-play ability. Antonio Brown is a decent receiver, but he does not have the explosiveness at this point that Wallace had. Brown has strong hands and he will catch any ball thrown to him.BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a hard-working and honest back, but he lacks breakaway ability and Marvin Lewis needs to give explosive rookie running back Gio Bernard significant carries. The key to the Bengals’ offense is the ability to get the ball into the hands of explosive A.J. Green, who excels at running after the catch. Tight end Tyler Eifert should develop into a first-class receiving option.
- DefenseThe Steelers remain a nasty and hard hitting team, but they may not be as effective as they have been in the past. The loss of aggressive James Harrison will be felt throughout the first half of the year and perhaps longer. On the positive side, strong side Troy Polamalu is healthy this year and he can be a difference maker because of his instincts and athletic ability.Harrison left the Steelers in the offseason and signed with the Bengals, and this will be his first opportunity to show his old team what he has left in the tank. The Bengals have one of the best defensive tackles in the league in Geno Atkins and his linemate Domata Peko is a solid complement. Vontaze Burfect is one of the hardest hitting linebackers in the league.
- Special TeamsThe Steelers are not likely to win this game on special teams. The loss of LaRod Stephens-Howling to a torn ACL will hurt their return game. Shaun Suisham suffered a hamstring injury in Week One and Shayne Graham could take over for him. Former New England Patriot Zoltan Mesko is an upgrade at punter.Adam Jones has a chance to make big plays returning punts, especially if he gets a low punt to handle. While he’s not the quickest at changing directions, he runs with speed and power. Kevin Huber averages 48.2 yards per punt while Mike Nugent is a decent kicker.
The Bengals were deeply disappointed that they could not beat the Bears despite dominating much of that Week One game. The Steelers have dominated the Bengals in Cincinnati – winning 11 of the last 12 games at Paul Brown Stadium -- but this appears to be the year that that trend no longer applies. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor