Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 11/12/11
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) GAME SNAPSHOTKICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET GAMEDATE: 111311 SURFACE: FieldTurf PREDICTION: Steelers 23-16 KEYS TO THE GAME: Bengals rookie QB Andy Dalton, a four-year starter at TCU, hasn't shown his inexperience but that could change against a high-pressure defense. He's learned to trust rookie WR A.J. Green even in tight coverage, keeping the offense churning despite RB Cedric Benson showing little burst. Without that big-play threat, the pressure -- quite literally -- is on Dalton. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has three straight 300-yard passing games and has alleviated pressure with short drops and quick passes. Cincinnati needs its second-ranked run defense to stuff RB Rashard Mendenhall so Roethlisberger becomes more vulnerable in longer passing situations. FAST FACTS: Pittsburgh is 11-1 against rookie starting quarterbacks under defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau since 2004. ... The Bengals have four defensive linemen with multiple sacks. INSIDE THE CAMPSSteelers Injuries may play another important part in how the Steelers line up on defense against the Cincinnati Bengals as Pittsburgh tries to stay within a whisker of the top in the AFC North Division Sunday. It appears that LaMarr Woodley, their sack leader with nine, will miss a second consecutive game with a hamstring injury. And now a new injury has popped up: safety Troy Polamalu, the 2010 NFL defensive player of the year, has missed both practices this week with a rib injury. Polamalu is the one player who can affect the style of defense the Steelers play. Without him they have been at times ordinary on defense. They have won without Woodley and without James Harrison and James Farrior, but they rarely do so without Polamalu. Farrior may return after missing two games with a calf injury, and James Harrison returned with a vengeance after missing four games with a broken orbital bone -- he had three sacks and a forced fumble against Baltimore last Sunday. Hines Ward, knocked from that game by a helmet-to-helmet hit from Ray Lewis (which cost him 20,000), went through a full practice both Wednesday and Thursday and should play against the Bengals. For the second straight week, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will face one of the highest-ranked defenses in the NFL. "I don't think they have one or two standout guys; they have 11, 12, 13, 14, guys that buy in, young guys with high motors on the outside at the end that get a lot of pressure on the quarterback," Roethlisberger said. "They do it with confusion. They do a lot of double-barrel stuff, things like that." Bengals Cedric Benson and the Bengals' running game gained a little more consistency in last week's win over Tennessee, but if they are going to win their sixth straight and beat Pittsburgh on Sunday, they need that to continue. Benson averaged 3.9 yards per carry against the Titans, which was his highest per carry average since he ran for 104 yards in the Week 4 win over Buffalo. He also had four carries of 10 yards or more. He is fourth in the AFC in carries (137) but the Bengals have been working Bernard Scott in more. With Pittsburgh and Baltimore coming up in back-to-back weeks, Benson has been looking forward to the resumption of division play. "I've been waiting for these to come around and to get into some high intensity atmospheres," Benson said. "I felt good out there (last week). It was good to get some attempts, get a chance to make something happen." Not since Rudi Johnson in 2004 has a Bengals running back rushed for over 100 yards against the Steelers and Benson had one of the worst games of his career the last time these two teams met with 19 yards on eight carries. Said Benson about the run game in general: "Things are a little bit different this season. We're doing a lot more rotating, so I can't really address the consistency. Whether it's there, not there, when it's there when it's not there. I just try to be as consistent as I can be." PERSONNEL NEWSSteelers --LB James Harrison says he was not fined for a hit against Ray Rice Sunday that ESPN said would "likely" draw a fine. Harrison, who led the Steelers with 100,000 in fines last season, hasn't been fined in 2011. --DE Al Woods was claimed off waivers from Seattle. Woods, who spent the 2010 season on Pittsburgh's practice squad, will be the No. 4 end. --QB Ben Roethlisberger, off to a blistering pace with 2,632 yards passing, has a slight right shoulder injury after he stretched his arm out to try to cross the goal line last Sunday. He is not on their injury list. --WR Hines Ward needs 40 receiving yards to hit 12,000 and 20 receptions to hit 1,000. He is fourth on the team with 26 catches and 258 yards. --WR Jerricho Cotchery is getting more playing time with Emmanuel Sanders out. Cotchery had three of his four 2011 receptions Sunday vs. Baltimore. Bengals --DE Carlos Dunlap (hamstring) did not practice for a second straight day and is doubtful for Sunday's game. --TE Jermaine Gresham (hamstring) did not practice and was limited on Wednesday. He is questionable for Sunday. --CB Adam Jones (hamstring) did not practice and was limited on Wednesday. He is questionable for Sunday. --TE Donald Lee (foot) did not practice for a second straight day. He is doubtful for Sunday. --LB Rey Maualuga (ankle) was limited in practice but said his ankle feels better. He should start after missing the past three games.
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