The Steelers have a date with the Bengals in Cincy for some good, old fashioned AFC North football.
Head coach Mike Tomlin took to the podium on Tuesday for his usual spot to wrap up the previous game, update any injury statuses, breakdown the upcoming game and answer questions.
There’s a lot to feel good about with Pittsburgh in the midst of a four-game win streak. The latest win over Buffalo was a much more dominant performance than the 27-20 final score would indicate. Le’Veon Bell had a record-setting day on the ground for Pittsburgh while the defense suffocated the Bills and went after Tyrod Taylor.
The three Ben Roethlisberger turnovers are hard to ignore, especially given that Buffalo scored almost immediately after the second one. LeSean McCoy broke some tackles and broke free on a few plays where the defense should have wrapped him up instead.
The injury news were promising, given that in December there’s usually a longer list of guys going out with injuries when Pittsburgh has some guys coming back.
“I’ll outline a couple of the guys who have been out extended: DeAngelo Williams (knee) worked some last week and had some positive results of that work. He’s got a legitimate chance to participate this week. We’ll let his practice participation and the quality of that participation be our guide in terms of his game availability and role.” – Mike Tomlin
Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey is still recovering from his foot injury and is working to get back but is less likely than Williams to have a chance at returning to face the Bengals. Shamarko Thomas is coming back from a concussion and Ramon Foster is coming back from his chest injury.
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Finney provided outstanding blocking in place of Foster against Buffalo. Offensive line coach Mike Munchak has certainly placed his stamp on this line in that you could almost plug any other players in and they’ll be able to succeed.
Tomlin also took the time on Tuesday to commend kicker Chris Boswell for returning from his abdominal injury to kick on Sunday. The team released kicker Randy Bullock, who was perfect in his pinch-kicking performance last week against the Giants.
“I really appreciate the contributions of Randy Bullock. He was a pleasure. He put his hand in the pile and delivered for us when called upon. Appreciate the spirit in which he approached the challenge that comes with being a guy in his position. Thankful for his contribution.” – Mike Tomlin
Since the presser the Cincinnati Bengals have announced that they released their kicker Mike Nugent and picked up Randy Bullock. Good feelings now gone. Commence the stink eye.
Tomlin addressed the matchup against the Bengals by acknowledging the injuries the 5-7-1 Bengals have had to deal with so far this season. They’ve had A.J. Green out for a few games and they had already lost running back Giovanni Bernard.
Still, with AFC North football you can go ahead and throw the records out of the window. The Steelers have their sights on winning the division and the Bengals would like nothing better than to ruin the plans.
There’s no denying the anticipation of Pittsburgh’s return to Cincinnati by the fact that this is the first time the two teams will play with full rosters since the intense Wild Card meeting last year. Vontaze Burfict was suspended for the first meeting in Week 2, partly for his actions in that Wild Card game.
We know that Burfict and Adam Jones are just itching to do something stupid again on the field. It’s like they can’t help themselves. Is Tomlin cautioning his players against it?
“We have enough on our agenda with what we are trying to get done as a football team. I understand the history, particularly the recent history. We can’t concern ourselves with that. We are going to come to play and play in the manner we always play. It’s AFC North football. We understand what that means. We understand how much they would like to derail what we have going on. It’s about our preparation and our play.” – Mike Tomlin
There is enough at stake this Sunday for Pittsburgh so winning the AFC North and leaving the Bengals behind in the dust will be all the payback they need.
It’s time to focus. Let’s do this. Bring on the Bengals!
Obviously = 6
Here we go Steelers! Here we go!