With about 20 minutes until kick-off, here are the inactive lists for both the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers and our Cincinnati Bengals:
Steelers: S Troy Polamalu, RB Rashard Mendenhall, RB Isaac Redman, OT Marcus Gilbert, LB Chris Carter, QB Charlie Batch, and C Maurkice Pouncey
Bengals: LB Dontay Moch, RB Brian Leonard, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, CB Jason Allen, WR Armon Binns, DT Brandon Thompson, and TE Richard Quinn.
The Steelers are really limping into this one, with two starting offensive lineman, both their top running backs, and the best defensive player down. This bodes well for the Bengals, although they never seem to be able to capitalize on other teams’ injuries. The Bengals defensive front should be able to get some pressure on Ben Roethlisberger with Pouncey and Gilbert out, but will they be able to get him on the ground? With both Mendenhall and Redman down, the Steelers will rely on untested Chris Rainey and Johnathan Dwyer.
As for the Bengals, most of the inactives were expected. The Bengals will miss Brian Leonard on 3rd downs, but it will give RB Cedric Peerman, who played well last week, more opportunities. It’s somewhat surprising that Moch is out, as his pass rushing skills might have been helpful. It’s also a bit disappointing that neither Jason Allen nor Dre Kirkpatrick is ready to go. They can use all the defensive backs they can against a Steelers offense that will likely be throwing the ball a lot.
The Ravens lost to the Texans, and the Browns lost to the Colts. A win tonight makes the Bengals 4-3, and just a game back of the Ravens again, and allows them to win a division game, and AFC game, and exorcise a sizeable demon. It’s a huge game for this franchise for the 2012 season.
It’s at home, it’s against a hated rival, and it’s in prime time on national television. The opponent is having an uncharacteristically troubled season, and are down several key players. The football gods have given the Bengals a golden opportunity to undo some of the damage caused by 2 bad performances in a row.
Can they capitalize? Let’s hope so.
Last week, Marvin Lewis questioned the team’s toughness and killer instinct. To me, he was pointing out an obvious flaw in all of his teams. Perhaps now is the time for them to stop being “nice” and start beating teams handily. It would be a glorious sight to see.
Will they respond and prove to us and their coach that they can take the next step? Or will they falter yet again and wilt under the lights of the big stage against a team they traditionally struggle with?
We’ll find out in about 3 hours.