Steelers vs. Bengals: Keys to Victory
It all comes down to this. The Steelers aren’t happy just getting into the playoffs; they want the AFC North back. They’re going to have to take it from the Cincinnati Bengals, who are trying to win back-to-back division titles for the first time since the AFC North was formed in 2002. The Bengals also have a shot at the No. 2 seed in the playoffs with a win and some help. It all comes down to Sunday night.
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The Steelers took the win in the first meeting between these two AFC North foes a few weeks ago thanks to a dominating performance by Le’Veon Bell, Ben Roethlisberger, and Antonio Brown. Can they repeat the same performance against a Bengals defense that just took advantage of Peyton Manning? What are the keys to a Steelers victory and their first AFC North title since 2010?
Run Le’Veon Run!
Le’Veon Bell had a monster game against the Bengals in Week 14, rushing for 185 yards and two touchdowns. He also had fifty receiving yards on six catches. He’s been held to 110 yards on the ground combined over the Steelers’ last two games. The Steelers can expect the Bengals to load the box to attempt to stop Bell like the Chiefs and Falcons did.
Le’Veon Bell has already won the team’s MVP and has established himself as one of the league’s top backs this season. He’ll need to show his patience at the line and prove that the last two games weren’t him starting a rut and he can get back to imposing his will against the other team. The offensive line plays heavily in that, obviously.
Big Game Big Ben
Ben Roethlisberger has a shot to be the first Steelers quarterback to throw for 5,000 yards in a season if he has at least 365 passing yards tonight. That’s not exactly a tall order, considering he had 350 passing yards against the Bengals in their Week 14 meeting.
Andy Dalton may have just recently shaken off the “dud” label in prime time performances but Ben Roethlisberger has a longer history of shining in the spotlight so he needs to do that again in order for the Steelers to secure a victory. If the Bengals defense does successfully take Bell out of the game, that’s when Ben needs to step in and take it over.
Win the turnover battle
In the last meeting between these two teams they played close through three quarters of football. Andy Dalton made the game-turning mistake early in the fourth quarter when he fumbled the ball on a fake handoff to Jeremy Hill. Arthur Moats fell on the ball and the Steelers recovered at the Bengals 24-yard line. The Steelers then converted that turnover into a touchdown to take the lead with a 13-yard run by Le’Veon Bell and a successful two-point conversion to Heath Miller.
To point that out speaks more to the Steelers offense needing to protect the ball as part of winning the turnover battle as opposed to expecting the defense to create turnovers. I realize they had a dominant performance last week against the Chiefs but it’s just unrealistic to expect them to create turnovers. This is to remind how much a turnover can change the tone of a game. After the Steelers recovered Dalton’s fumble they went on to score 25 points in the fourth quarter in the victory. Don’t be the team that gives up the ball and gives the other team the momentum late in the game.
What are your keys to a Steelers victory?
Here we go Steelers! Here we go!