LeBeau: OLB Woodley could return after bye
CINCINNATI — LaMarr Woodley said he did some light jogging before Sunday's game at Paul Brown Stadium, and the Steelers are hopeful the outside linebacker will return to action after this week's bye.
Woodley, who has nine sacks, has missed the past two games because of a hamstring injury. He and outside linebacker James Harrison have played in parts of only four games together because of injuries.
When asked if he anticipates having Woodley and Harrison when the Steelers visit the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 27, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said, "I think so."
The bye also will give receivers Emmanuel Sanders (knee) and Arnaz Battle (hamstring) time to get healthy. The two, along with Woodley, didn't dress for the Steelers' 24-17 win over the Bengals yesterday.
The Steelers emerged from the game relatively healthy.
Free safety Ryan Clark and left tackle Max Starks sustained shoulder and stinger injuries, respectively, but later returned.
Starks stayed down after feeling a burning sensation in the third quarter, but he missed only one play on what proved to be the game-winning drive.
"I felt fine," Starks said.
> > Receiver Hines Ward is the leading receiver in Steelers history. But he proved to be the odd man out Sunday, with Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace starting at wideout and Jerricho Cotchery getting more playing time than Ward. Ward, who had one catch for 10 yards, returned from concussion-like symptoms he sustained a week earlier. But coach Mike Tomlin said health had nothing to do with Ward's limited snaps. "We were just looking at some personnel groups and looking at ways we wanted to attack these people," Tomlin said. "We'll do that from week to week. It may not be any indication of his participation moving forward."
> > Tight end Heath Miller absorbed a head-snapping hit after hauling in an 18-yard pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the first quarter. But Miller said the hit, delivered by safety Reggie Nelson, was a clean one. Miller said Nelson's shoulder caught him in the upper right side of the chest. "It was a good hit," Miller said. "Fortunately, I was able to hang onto the ball and keep the drive going."
> > Nose tackle Chris Hoke was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. Other healthy inactives were: quarterback Dennis Dixon, offensive tackle Jamon Meredith and defensive end Al Woods. ... Antonio Brown has 26 catches for 364 yards and three touchdowns in the Steelers' past three games. ... The Steelers held the Bengals to 69 yards passing in the second half, a season-low for the defense. ... Miller caught three passes for 31 yards and moved into 10th place on the Steelers' all-time list for receiving yards.
> > Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's zone blitz defense is supposed to create chaos for rookie quarterbacks. And by evidence of LeBeau's 13-1 record against rookies since 2004, it does just that. But Bengals QB Andy Dalton handled the Steelers' defense much better than the rookies before him. Dalton threw for 170 yards and two touchdowns, wasn't sacked and was hit only twice. "I feel like we had a really good grasp on what they were doing," Dalton said. "Even with all the movements and shifts that they were doing, I still thought we had a good feel. They did throw some things at us, but I thought we adjusted well and handled it." Dalton did throw two interceptions, one of which was tipped. The other came with the game on the line with less than three minutes left in a 24-17 game. "That's not acceptable," Dalton said.
> > Rookie wide receiver A.J. Green injured his knee after he hauled in a 36-yard touchdown catch during the second quarter.Green returned for the rest of the first half, but did not play following halftime. "After halftime, I think it got a little stiff," Green said. "I got on the bike and it just didn't feel the same." Green said he expects to play next week at Baltimore. Cornerback Leon Hall left in the first half with an Achilles injury and did not return.
> > Tackle Andrew Whitworth was called for two critical penalties against James Harrison. A holding call came late in the third quarter and eventually forced the Bengals to punt. A hands-to-the-face infraction came midway through the fourth quarter and also killed a drive. "Sometimes those guys dictate the games and sometimes they don't," Whitworth said. "It is what it is." Coach Marvin Lewis wasn't as kind to the referees. "We've had that holding before, and it's not holding and it won't be holding when we get the tape on Tuesday, but it was called today," Lewis said.
> > Inactive for the Bengals: Adam Jones, Robert Sands, Dontay Moch, Clint Boling, Donald Lee, Ryan Whalen and Carlos Dunlap.
Inside The Lines
> > If it isn't broken, don't fix it. That's the approach the Steelers took in attacking Bengals cornerback Leon Hall. Antonio Brown, who finished with five catches for 86 yards, had a field day against Hall. He toyed with him all day but practically owned him on the Steelers' final drive of the first half. Brown kept the drive alive by twisting Hall in knots on two third-down completions — 21- and 15- yard gains that put the Steelers in scoring position at the Cincinnati 46-yard line. Then, Brown sprinted by Hall for 17 yards. The Bengals left Hall in man coverage on the weak side of field. Roethlisberger exploited a confused Hall, who didn't get any help from safety Chris Crocker. Brown had four catches in a drive that netted a 39-yard field by Shaun Suisham for a 17-10 halftime lead. Hall, who gathered in a Heath Miller bobble for an interception, sat out the second half with an Achilles injury.
> > The Steelers tried pulling Crocker and Reggie Nelson toward the line of scrimmage with an array of quick outs and slants. Instead, the Bengals nearly baited Roethlisberger into an interception when Hall dislodged the ball from Nelson's hand — a missed opportunity that allowed the Steelers to march 67 yards in 16 plays for Suisham's field goal.
> > The Bengals couldn't get near Roethlisberger when the Steelers marched easily downfield for touchdowns on their first two drives. The Bengals disguised their pass rush afterward, mixing corner blitzes with linebacker Rey Maualuga charging up the middle. As a result, Roethlisberger was sacked three times in the second quarter and twice in the third.
> > Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis figured special teams would dictate the outcome of the game. The Bengals plugged up the middle of the field on Brown's kickoff returns, trusting their speed would seal the edges. It worked to perfection; Brown averaged only 23 yards on three returns.
Steelers vs. Bengals 11/1 3⁄11
The Steelers defeat Cincinnati, 24-17, Sunday November 13, 2011 at Paul Brown Stadium.