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Steelers Look to Deal Bengals Another Home Field Loss

Steelers looking to win seventh straight in Cincinnati, stifle
Bengals hopes again
By JOE KAY
AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI (AP) - The first-place Pittsburgh Steelers are coming
to town with another chance to break some hearts. Lately, they've
been really good at it.
For the third season in a row, the Steelers (4-2) have a chance
to leave the Bengals in a bad way on their home field. Pittsburgh
has won six in a row at Paul Brown Stadium, where thousands of
their towel-twirling fans find a way to get tickets and create a
stir.
The Bengals (2-4) can't afford to let it happen again.
A 38-31 victory over the Jets last Sunday ended their four-game
losing streak and provided a chance to save their season. If they
beat the Steelers, they'd be only one game out of first place in
the AFC North.
If they lose, they'd be three games under .500 and three games
out of first approaching the season's midpoint, a very bad place
indeed.
They know this could very well be their last chance.
"It's a big game," said defensive end Robert Geathers, who is
filling in at linebacker because of injuries. "We never lost track
of being able to win our division, so it's no surprise to us that
we're in this position."
No one is better than the Steelers at snuffing out Bengals
hopes.
When Cincinnati made the playoffs in 2005 for the first time in
15 years, the Steelers came to town for a first-round game, knocked
Carson Palmer out with a knee injury, and started their run to the
Super Bowl title.
Fans in Cincinnati are still smarting from that one.
"It was a tough loss for this city, for this organization, but
you could 'if' and 'what-if' yourself to death," Palmer said.
"They beat us fair and square at our place and moved on and won a
bunch of games in a row, and ended up winning the Super Bowl.
That's how it ended up."
Last season also ended with another Terrible Towel heartbreak.
The Steelers were already eliminated when they came to
Cincinnati on New Year's Eve and won 23-17 in overtime, ending the
Bengals' playoff chances. Cincinnati's Shayne Graham missed a
39-yard field goal attempt with 12 seconds left, and Ben
Roethlisberger threw a 67-yard touchdown pass in overtime, giving
Bill Cowher a victory in his last game as head coach.
Now, Pittsburgh has a chance to extend the Bengals' misery and
tighten its hold on first place.
"Regardless of the records and where we are in the standings
right now, both teams need this win," Roethlisberger said. "I'm
sure both teams are going to come out with kind of a desperate-type
play and do everything we can to win the football game."
The Steelers usually get the best of it in Cincinnati.
There's very little mystery involved. The Steelers will try to
pressure Palmer into mistakes, then run the ball against one of the
league's worst defenses. It was their way under Cowher, and it's
still their way under first-year coach Mike Tomlin.
Pittsburgh has run for more than 200 yards twice already this
season, and will be facing a defense that has allowed four 100-yard
rushers. The Steelers got away from their run-first philosophy last
week in Denver, and wound up losing 31-28.
The Bengals expect to see the Steelers' running game in all its
glory.
"With Cowher, they were more predictable with what they ran,"
defensive lineman John Thornton said. "Now they run more
misdirection, and those are things we've had trouble with. We've
given up a lot of big runs because of misdirection.
"That's how they make their living, running the ball and
keeping you off-balance. We really have to put those big-boy pads
on this week, so to speak. It's not going to be a finesse game."
Roethlisberger is off to a solid start, throwing for 13
touchdowns with five interceptions. In his first six game last
season, he had six touchdowns and 11 interceptions, setting up the
Steelers' disappointing finish.
Why so good now?
"I don't know," Roethlisberger said. "There's probably no
explanation. Just being smart with the ball, understanding what's
going on."
The Bengals know exactly what's going on.
Whenever the Steelers come to town, they bring thousands of fans
that make the visitors feel at home. Coach Marvin Lewis and several
Bengals players asked fans last week to hold onto their tickets and
not sell them to Steelers fans.
Palmer thinks that has something to do with their six-game
winning streak in Cincinnati.
"When they come here, it seems like they have just as many fans
as we do in the stadium," Palmer said. "There will be a bunch of
their fans here, and they're loud, extremely loud. Normally you
don't hear the opposing team in our stadium.
"It's just the way it has worked out. I don't think we've
played really well against them at home yet. We're trying to change
that this week."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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