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Cornerback Curtis Brown proving to be special

Steelers rookie cornerback Curtis Brown hasn't worked himself into the defensive rotation, but he's easily the team's special teams player of the year. Brown leads the team with 10 tackles on kick coverage, including nine solo tackles. Linebacker Stevenson Sylvester, cornerback Cortez Allen and kicker Shaun Suisham all have five tackles.

"Curtis is the kind of person you want on special teams," Sylvester said. "He's an incredible competitor."

"Everybody can appreciate a hard worker," Brown said. "I'm just doing what I can with the opportunities I get. It's like going from high school to college where I had to wait and develop. I've just got to develop at this level, too. I'm not ready right now. It's just experience."

Keeping the heat off

Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton has been an elusive target, being sacked only 16 times in leading the Bengals to a 7-4 record. Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis gives much of the credit to an improved line under assistant coach Paul Alexander.

"If you look at the nine seasons that I have been here, we have been in the top five of least amount of sacks every season," Lewis said. "Obviously, we play in a division where we play against great defenses that really put a lot of pressure on the quarterback."

The Steelers have 24 sacks this season, including a team-high nine by linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who could play for the first time since Oct. 30.

The Steelers are 7-0 when leading after the first quarter. They'll face a Bengals team that has five come-from-behind wins this season. The Bengals let another comeback win slip away when Dalton threw two fourth-quarter interceptions in a 24-17 loss to the Steelers three weeks ago.

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