Aug 10, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Ziggy Hood (96) on the sidelines against the New York Giants during the first half at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
Ed Bouchette of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently wrote an article on the subject of the Cincinnati Bengals’ young but talented defense. The veteran beat writer alluded to how much the Bengals have improved in recent seasons on that side of the ball, and some of Pittsburgh’s players like Ike Taylor complimented how formidable Cincinnati’s defensive unit has become.
Others like Ziggy Hood and Ryan Clark seemed to forget the beating that the Bengals’ defense laid down on the Steelers last year at Heinz Field in Week 16 of last year. In fact, Hood had this to say about those who claim that Cincinnati’s stout defense is superior to Pittsburgh’s at the moment:
"“Nah, I don’t believe the hype, … I know what our defense can do out there on the field. We’ll find out come Monday night."
I can understand why Hood made those particular comments, especially since nobody wants to disparage their own unit. Yet to dismiss what the Bengals have done as simply “hype” is completely fallacious.
Members of Pittsburgh’s defense like Hood can squawk all they want about being ranked “number one” in categories like yards allowed, but Cincinnati’s defense has been far superior in important statistical areas like sacks and turnovers forced during the last two seasons.
The Bengals racked up more sacks than the Steelers did in 2011 (45.0 to 35.0) and 2012 (51.0 to 37.0) due to the play of their defensive line. As far as takeaways were concerned, Cincinnati’s takeaway numbers were far superior to Pittsburgh’s to boot during 2011 (22 to 17) and 2012 (30 to 20) seasons as well.
The Bengals’ defense also did not allow juggernauts like Tennessee, Oakland, Kansas City, and Philadelphia to slice and dice them for game-tying and game-winning drives in the fourth quarter of last season either.
And yes, Ryan Clark, you are correct that Cincinnati did not win the Super Bowl after the last two seasons as you alluded to in Bouchette’s article. But guess what? I did not see your defense hoisting the Lombardi after the 2011 and 2012 campaigns either!
At least the Bengals lost to two formidable Houston teams on the road during postseason play after the 2011 and 2012 regular seasons. Your defense allowed 316 passing yards and were bounced by Tim Tebow in Denver two years ago! As pathetic as that performance was, I am sure that you are also aware that your team was denied a postseason berth last year by the very same Bengals defense that you seem to take so lightly.
Your vaunted defense might have played well in that game, but I saw Cincinnati’s defense putting points on the board to help their stagnant offense. Moreover, was it not your unit that allowed “Ginger Spice” to drive his team into field goal range for the “W” late in that particular game too?
Hood and Clark can talk all they want about the upcoming game and convince themselves that they are indeed the “better” defense. Whatever it takes to psyche themselves up is fine by me.
I just hope that they will ask Ben Roethlisberger how “hyped” Cincinnati’s defense is after the Pro Bowl quarterback spends most of the game on his back and being peeled from the turf at Paul Brown Stadium.
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