The Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Cincinnati with an 0-1 record after a pitiful performance against the Tennessee Titans in the season opener. The Steelers face the Bengals in week 2, an AFC North matchup that’ll leave one of the teams in the division 0-2 to start the year. To avoid going 0-2 and walk out of Cincinnati with a win, the Steelers will need to follow these five keys.
5. Render Dalton gunless
A more experienced Andy Dalton goes up against, for the most part, a veteran Steelers defense. Dalton and the rest of the Bengals handed the Steelers a loss last year that eliminated the Steelers from playoff contention. Dalton looked sharp in that win and has only gotten better. The Bengals fell to the Chicago in their season opener, but Dalton still passed for 282 yards in that game. The leading receiver was none other than AJ Green, who racked up 162 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
The Steelers’ secondary is going to have shut down AJ Green and prevent any long balls from happening. Shutting down the passing game of the Bengals will drastically enhance the Steelers chances of getting a victory. The Bengals last week only rushed for a mere 63 yards. The Steelers have a solid defensive front, the running game shouldn’t be much of a factor. Stopping the pass game and being strong in the secondary will leave the Bengals with no answers on offense.
4. Keep it in enemy territory
Last week the Steelers couldn’t seem to find themselves with good field position. The Steelers’ special teams handed the Titans great field position over the course of the game. Filed position is definitely an underrated aspect of the game and can be the difference between a win or loss.
The Steelers will have better opportunities if they can set up shop with decent field position. The defense can execute better and give the offense better field position if the special teams garner some excellent field position along the way. If the Steelers can win the battle of field position, I’d expect a lot more productivity out of all three sides of the ball.
3. Don’t let Big Ben topple
It’s no secret that QB Ben Roethlisberger is the key factor when it comes to the offense. For years the offensive line for the Steelers has been subpar at best. However, each season protecting Big Ben becomes even more essential. This season’s no different and in this game protecting Roethlisberger will be a key component.
Let’s not forget who the Bengals acquired during the offseason: former Steelers linebacker, James Harrison. There’s no doubt that Harrison is looking to make a statement against his former team after the two sides bumped heads during the offseason. Who does Harrison take his anger out on? Roethlisberger of course.
Roethlisberger was sacked five times in the season opener and with center Maurkice Pouncey out for the year the task of protecting the franchise quarterback will be a tough one. If the Steelers can keep Roethlisberger upright during the game Monday night the offense should flow a lot more smoothly.
2. Don’t give it away
If any team commits multiple turnovers in a game there’s a good chance that team’s not going to win the game. Last week, the Steelers turned the ball over twice. A crucial turnover came when Roethlisberger and Isaac Redman didn’t have a clean exchange on a handoff, and the ball was fumbled inside the red zone. A mistake like this is unacceptable and needs to be taken care of.
The Steelers can’t afford to have big-time turnovers when they face the Bengals. This is a pivotal matchup, the Steelers can’t commit multiple, if any turnovers at all if they want to win this one. Taking care of the ball must be a priority on Monday night.
1. Make plays
In the season opener the Steelers looked pitiful, almost as if they weren’t even interested in playing the game. The offense was lousy, no fire power whatsoever. The Steelers need to enter this game with some energy. The defense had a strong showing in the opener but if they could generate some turnovers against the Bengals that would really help their cause and give the offense a boost too.
Every player for the Steelers needs to show up ready to make some big-time plays. Another lackluster performance like the one in the season opener will result in another loss.