Week 10: Steelers Key Matchup
Steelers' front seven vs. Cincinnati RB Cedric Benson
STEELERS' FRONT SEVEN
Every week, Dick LeBeau's defense goes into the game with the goal of not allowing the other team to be able to run the ball. So that's what the Steelers do — they don't allow the opposition to run the ball thus making the opposition one dimensional. The Steelers have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in the past 26 regular- season games and have allowed only three 100-yard rushers over the past 80 games (Edgerrin James in 2005, Thomas Jones in 2007, Fred Taylor in 2007). The Steelers previously had a streak of 34 games in a row not allowing a 100-yard rusher. The Steelers haven't allowed anyone to get close to that number this season.
BENGALS - RB CEDRIC BENSON
Benson has been one of the biggest surprises of the season. Benson ranks second in the NFL behind Johnson with 837 yards rushing. He has four 100-yard rushing games and has surpassed the 100-yard mark in seven of his 18 career starts with Cincinnati. But more important than the yards to the Bengals are Benson's number of carries. Benson leads the league with 198 and has been able to rush the ball 20 times or more in six of his eight games this year. Benson didn't rush for more than 100 yards against the Steelers in their first meeting, but his 76 yards, including a 23-yard TD, are the most any back as registered against them this season.
ADVANTAGE: STEELERS FRONT SEVEN
The Steelers do not permit running backs to rush for 100 yards, even when some of their key defensive components have been sidelines with injuries. Defensive end Aaron Smith, a stout run stopper, has been out the past three games with a torn rotator cuff. His backup, Travis Kirschke, missed last week's game against Denver. And still the Steelers defense has not allowed a team to run against them. Since the loss of Smith, the Steelers have allowed the opposition only 3.5 yards per carry. The Bengals will try to get the Steelers into their nickel and dime defenses and then run the ball.