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Bettis: Change at offensive coordinator was inevitable

| Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, 7:46 p.m.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throws during practice on the South Side on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review

Jerome Bettis last played for the Steelers in 2005, but he still closely watches them.

In an interview with Fox Sports 1360 in Cincinnati, he called the decision to fire Bruce Arians and bring in Todd Haley as offensive coordinator “a mistake, but it was a long time coming.”

The change was made, he said, because “(the) star quarterback and offensive coordinator were really close, and ownership felt that Ben (Roethlisberger) wasn't getting enough discipline.”

Bettis also said the Steelers are trying to run the ball more than they did under Arians, but, “They don't have the personnel to do that, and they're not winning.”

• Offensive tackle Mike Adams (ankle), out for three games, returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday. Cornerback Keenan Lewis (hip) and receiver Emmanuel Sanders (rib) also weren't full participants, but cornerback Cortez Allen (groin) was after sitting out the Dallas game. Defensive end Al Woods was ill. Troy Polamalu hasn't practiced since returning from his seven-game layoff with a torn calf.

• Right guard David DeCastro's evaluation of his first NFL start: “I am not overjoyed on how I did, and I am not bummed out either. I think I did OK.” DeCastro, out for most of the season with a knee injury, played every snap in Dallas. He allowed one sack and wasn't happy that he did. “All it takes is one play,” he said. “For the most part, we are pretty good and on the same page. There really are no excuses for it.”

• Roethlisberger gets a say in the game plan every week but, like most quarterbacks, not the final say. He and Haley go through plays every week, and the quarterback vetoes some he doesn't like. “If a coordinator really loves the play, it's probably going to stay in,” Roethlisberger said. “They're coordinators for a reason.”

• Only three NFL quarterbacks have thrown at least 20 touchdown passes in each of their first two seasons: Peyton Manning, Dan Marino and … Andy Dalton. Dalton, 0-3 against the Steelers, needs to throw at least four TDs the next two weeks to join Carson Palmer as the only Bengals QBs with 30 in a season.

• Only one of the Steelers' last seven games was decided by more than 6 points. Eight of their 14 games were decided by four points or fewer. Compare that to the Seahawks, who have won their past two games by a combined 91 points — the first team to do that since the 1941 Bears. “I don't really remember us winning games by 40 points,” Mike Wallace said. “It's always been the matter of a field goal or a touchdown for the most part.”

• If there's a theme for the Steelers this week, it's hold on to the football.

Jonathan Dwyer said Cincinnati's defense is one of the best at stripping the ball in traffic, as evidenced by a plus-8 takeaway margin during a run of five wins in six games. The Bengals forced 15 turnovers in those six games.

By comparison, the Steelers are minus-14 while losing four of five, getting only four takeaways. They haven't forced more turnovers than their opponent in a span of 10 games, or since they beat the Eagles, 16-14, on Oct. 7.

• The Bengals last reached the playoffs in successive seasons in 1981-82, or 30 years ago, but they could assure themselves of doing that by winning Sunday. Receiver A.J. Green said it would be an achievement if they do. “Oh yeah, definitely,” he said. “We can't control the past. This is only my second year, so making the playoffs again would be great.”

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