Sat, 15 Aug 2020

Countdown to 2020: The Bengals

The Steelers
14 Jul 2020, 06:30 GMT+10

Date: Nov. 15

Time: 1 p.m.

Venue: Heinz Field

Date: Dec. 21

Time: 8:15 p.m.

Venue: Paul Brown Stadium

All-Time Regular-Season Series: Steelers lead, 64-35. The Steelers also lead the postseason series, 2-0.

Last Meeting: QB Devlin Hodges did just enough in relief of Mason Rudolph and the defense came up with a coupe of critical turnovers in the fourth quarter in a 16-10 victory on Nov. 24, 2019 in Cincinnati. Hodges replaced Rudolph on the second series of the third quarter and connected with WR James Washington on a 79-yard, catch-and-run touchdown that gave the Steelers a 10-7 lead. A 13-10, fourth-quarter Steelers' advantage was preserved thanks to a forced fumble by LB Devin Bush and a recovery by FS Minkah Fitzpatrick at the Steelers' 6-yard line. The Bengals' final possession ended on a sack of QB Ryan Finley, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, all registered by OLB Bud Dupree. The Steelers had defeated the Bengals in the teams' first meeting, 27-3, on Sept. 30 at Heinz Field.

Last Season: The Bengals went 2-14 and finished fourth in the AFC North. Cincinnati ranked 26th in total offense (25th rushing, 19th passing) and 29th in total defense (32nd rushing, 21st passing).

Since Then: Cincinnati drafted LSU QB Joe Burrow with the first-overall selection in April's NFL Draft. Andy Dalton, who started all 133 games he played at quarterback for the Bengals from 2011 through last season, has moved on to Dallas. The draft also netted Clemson WR Tee Higgins on the second round (33rd overall). Cincinnati actively pursued defensive upgrades in unrestricted free agency and brought in CBs Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander from Minnesota, S Vonn Bell from New Orleans and DT D.J. Reader from Houston.

Headliners: Burrow threw for 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns, rushed for 368 yards and five TDs and won the Heisman Trophy and the National Championship last season at LSU. WR A.J. Green missed 2019 (ankle). He has 63 career touchdown receptions and six 1,000-yard campaigns in eight NFL seasons, but hasn't gone over 1,000 yards receiving since 2017. RB Joe Mixon was ninth in the NFL in rushing (1,137 yards) and 12th in the NFL in yards from scrimmage (1,424) in 2019. Last season's No. 1 pick, Alabama OT Jonah Williams (11th overall), missed the entire season (shoulder).

Stat That Matters: The three quarterbacks on the Bengals' roster, Burrow, Finley and Jacob Dolegala, have a combined one year of NFL experience (Finley last season), a combined three NFL starts (all by Finley last season) and a combined zero NFL wins.

Memorable Meeting: The Steelers' road to Super Bowl XL started in Cincinnati, where they trailed 10-0 after the first quarter and 17-14 at halftime but rallied convincingly thereafter for a 31-17 victory in an AFC Wild Card Game on Jan. 8, 2006 at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals lost QB Carson Palmer (knee) on his first pass (a 66-yard completion to WR Chris Henry on Cincinnati's second offensive snap). Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger completed 14 of 19 passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns. The visitors also rushed for 144 yards, including 52 by RB Jerome Bettis, 46 by RB Verron Haynes and 38 by RB Willie Parker. Steelers LB James Farrior and SS Troy Polamalu picked off Bengals relief QB Jon Kitna (24-for-40, 197 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions).

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