Bengals-Steelers Recap: Troy, LaMarr Own Carson

If I weren’t a Steelers fan, I’m not sure who I would hate more: Ben Roethlisberger or Troy Polamalu. Both players, each in their own special way, have an infuriating knack for making huge plays. I suspect the feelings opposing fans have for those two rivals my abhorrence for JJ Redick during his days at Duke.

Whatever, not my problem. I love that Ben and Troy are Steelers (obvious bar bathroom-related issues aside), especially after what they did against a Bengals team that appears to have given up some two and a half months ago.

Polamalu had two picks, LaMarr Woodley added another, Roethlisberger took his requisite beating and — like every other game — the officials pretended they didn’t see anything.

Didn’t matter.

As has been the case in recent weeks, the Steelers have overcome questionable calls and won convincingly. I’ll take it.

* A reader mentioned it after the Raiders game and it certainly appears to be the case: those early-season screens that went to Hines Ward (and I speculated that they were solely for the purpose of extending Hines’ executive catches streak)? They’re now going to Mike Wallace with spectacularly different results. You see it every week, but every week Wallace’s speed just takes your breath away.

I think we can all agree that Wallace will never be as shifty as Santonio Holmes, but he’s shifty enough. And when you run the 40 in 4.3, “enough” is all you need.

* A month ago, I questioned Troy’s game. He struggled against the Saints — and for the subsequent few games — and I wondered whether he was injured, offenses had found a way to neutralize him, or if he had just hit a rough patch. No idea, but here’s the lesson: never doubt Polamalu. Huge game against the Bills, bigger effort against the Ravens, and a Player of the Week performance versus the Bengals. Although, to be fair, Carson Palmer probably deserves half that award. He was that bad.

(I mentioned on the last podcast that now-Ravens wideout T.J. Houshyomamma told a Baltimore reporter that much of the Bengals’ offensive woes aren’t Carson’s fault. I wanted to believe TJ, but lord have mercy, Palmer is dreadful. And as Mike Mayock pointed out during NFL Network’s AFC Playbook, Palmer can’t read defenses. Pretty sure Troy and LaMarr would confirm as much.)

* Another week, another yeoman’s effort from Rashard Mendenhall. The big plays aren’t coming as frequently as they did early in the season, but sure hands, positive gains, solid blocking, and pass-catching ability have been staples of Mendenhall’s game all year long. And, really, that’s all you can ask for.

* Hines has had an up and down season, and I’m sure I’m not the only guy wondering if he finally is on his last legs. Much like me questioning Troy, Hines isn’t afraid to prove me wrong. Big day against the Bengals. And even though the Steelers didn’t score an offensive touchdown, Ward had a lot to do with Po-Sweezy (yep, that’s what I’m calling Shaun Suisham — thanks, Mike D) going 3 for 3 on field-goal attempts.

(One more thought before getting to special teams: I have to point out Antwaan Randle El’s “DID YOU SEE THAT?” catch deep in Cincy territory. Fantastic grab. ARE personifies “can’t make the easy catch but never drops the impossible one.” It’s irksome, for sure, but certainly a nice surprise Sunday. Oh, and the only more unlikely than the catch? The Randle El option to Wallace for a first down.)

* Jason Kapinos is left-footed. I had no idea. He had a swell day, both punting and holding. That is all.

* Bryant McFadden, everybody! Okay, he didn’t really do much, but at this stage of the proceedings, I’ll take it. Also: hat tip to William Gay for picking up his game after missing an early tackle on Cedric Benson (or maybe it was Bernhard Scott) catching a pass out of the backfield.

* This is how awesome Dick LeBeau is. After Troy’s game-deciding pick in the end zone (that also included a “Really? You’re really going to lateral that at your 20-yard line, Troy?”), I could only chuckle after LeBeau grabbed Polamalu by the shoulder pads and sternly explained that stupid plays aren’t part of the game plan. It was obvious to everybody, clearly, but the last time I saw LeBeau that fired up was when Anthony Smith high-stepped it down the sidelines following an interception against the Panthers during the 2006 season.

But if that’s my biggest gripe against the Steelers then, well, it was a pretty good day.

Pittsburgh’s 10-3 and … let’s go Texans.

PS. Yes, I know, the Steelers’ offense has sputtered a bit recently. I don’t dispute that, but I’d point to a ton of injuries along the offensive line, a Frankenfooted, broke-nosed QB who can’t get one call, and some bad luck. Still, through it all, Pittsburgh keeps winning. And even if Troy and LaMarr hadn’t accounted for 14 points, the Steelers still outscored the Bengals, 9-7. Just saying.

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  • Cols714

    What is it going to take for an official to call a roughing the QB on Ben? Does he have to die on the field? Does the hit have to come after the whistle?

    I don’t get how the Williams hit on him wasn’t roughing. He took 2 or 3 steps after Ben threw the ball.

    • DC in ATL

      Maybe it will take Big Ben getting hit in the face and blood splattering all over the…. Oh, wait…nevermind.

      • Cols714

        Yep. I really don’t get it at all.

  • Canadian Steeler

    That LeBeau-Troy thing was great, especially later on when they showed them hugging. Troy clearly felt awful for disappointing Coach Dad, and it just goes to show what an incredible relationship he has with his players. There’s no doubt that Polamalu’s leading the DPOY race. He’s literally winning games from a defensive perspective, and Clay Matthews has slowed down considerably.

    It frustrates the hell out of me, but the inconsistent refereeing could make the team stronger in the end. They can really thrive in the pariah, us against the world, role. We’ll need to be more disciplined if we want to go far in the playoffs, but we’re finding ways to win right now, which should get us a bye (and Aaron Smith back).

    • drinkingclub

      I think with the Jets loss to Miami the Steelers have clinched a play-off spot.

    • drinkingclub

      Actually, I was wrong about the play-off spot. Serves me right for trusting the wrong source.

  • matt

    Refs cannot be this blind without doing it on purpose. Missed holding calls on #56, one on ziggy, ben gets face smacked again! and that holding call on hotel was pure ticky tack.

    I tihnk for the good of the NFL, they need to run a hit-the-refs play where each ref gets taken down. this is bs.

  • http://www.steelerslounge.com/ ryan

    RE: refs,

    It’s frustrating as hell, for sure, but as my buddy always says: The Ball Never Lies. It seems that, not matter what the officials try to do, the Steelers’ play prevails. Of course, as soon as Pittsburgh gets screwed out of a win, that’ll all go out the window. For now, though, it’s a pretty sweet feeling.

  • David

    Saw a stat saying out of our 9 penalties, 6 were holds. Geez Louise X-mas.

    Say what you will about the non-calls on Ben, but we can do a better job on holds.

  • Wildbill99

    Always an excuse for Roethlisberger.

    ben sucks.

    Isn’t the offense job to score points? Something Ben can’t seem to accomplish?

    Oh yeah he has stats though great stats.

    Screw your stats score me some points.

  • John Henry Johnson

    Wildbill99, do you actually watch the games ? Is their any other QB on the planet that could even stay upright behind our O-line ? Get a clue.

  • Anonymous

    P. Swayze is 9 of 9 on field goals, which is A-OK in my book. I didn’t notice, were any of the three today into the difficult end of Heinz field?

  • http://www.carlnatale.com/about-carl-natale/ Carl Natale

    Why so harsh on Palmer? He did throw three touchdown passes. Too bad only one of them was to a current teammate.

    • http://www.steelerslounge.com/ ryan

      And the other was to his left tackle. Quite a performance all around.

  • eddie

    ARE’s catch was awesome, but…

    any other WR even an inch taller than 5′ 7″ makes that catch with two feet firmly planted. it’s only spectacular because ARE is spectacularly short… haha!

  • Wildbill99

    John Henry?? Watch the game why I never would have thought of that! However I see you have just made another “excuse” for Ben.

    Score me some points rather than play the Goodell version of WWF drama********* ben score some points that’s your job.

    So John Henry my question to you. How many other QB with our “line” and “offensive talent” WOULD score points?

    even Aaron rogers would do a better job.

  • Wildbill99

    John Henry?? Watch the game why I never would have thought of that! However I see you have just made another “excuse” for Ben.

    Score me some points rather than play the Goodell version of WWF drama********* ben score some points that’s your job.

    So John Henry my question to you. How many other QB with our “line” and “offensive talent” WOULD score points?

    even Aaron rogers would do a better job.