Sunday will be a rematch of the Steelers-Bengals game from Week 4 of the season, a Monday night matchup the Steelers won, 27-3.
The defense shut down the Bengals, holding them to 73 yards rushing and 171 yards passing. At that point Andy Dalton was still the team’s starting quarterback, with those duties now in the hands of Ryan Finley.
Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor knows it’s a big week, especially after falling to the Steelers earlier in the season.
“It’s a big week for us – Pittsburgh week,” said Taylor. “These are big games for us, these divisional games. I understand the rivalries that people feel here and in years past, so we’re excited to play the Steelers. We have a lot of regrets from the first time we played them. We let it get away from us early in the game.”
The Bengals weighed in on Sunday’s game, with a lot of talk about the Steelers defense.
Head Coach Zac Taylor on the Steelers overall:
“They have a good team. They’ve done a really good job on defense. They’re really physical. They have about 10 or 11 first-round picks over there, and they’re two-deep. They’re creating a lot of turnovers and really affecting quarterbacks. They’re doing a nice job.
“They’re battling through some injuries on offense, and we’ll see how that plays out. The quarterback (Mason Rudolph) is getting more experience. You see some good things from him. You can see the growth there that I’m sure they’re hoping to get. That’ll be a tough challenge for us on both sides of the ball.”
Taylor on the Steelers defense:
“Fast, physical, aggressive. They play with a lot of confidence. They do a good job communicating. It starts with the front. It starts with those guys up front. They do a great job of winning their one-on-ones.
“You look at every unit behind them. It’s a bunch of first-round draft picks that really play like first-round draft picks, to be quite honest with you. You look at every single area of their defense and they do a really good job. They create turnovers and capitalize on those turnovers. You look at some of the close games that they’ve played, the Rams game for example, it’s 17-12 because they get that fumble return for a touchdown at the end of the half that really breaks that game open for them. They do a really good job capitalizing on the turnovers that they’ve created. They get sacks to stop drives and to put you in third-and-long situations. It happened to us, and it happened to some of the other teams that they’ve played.
“They’ve done an excellent job over there.”
Quarterback Ryan Finley on what makes the Steelers defense so good:
“They’re playing well right now. They rush the passer well. They are simplified on defense, which allows them to play fast. For us, we need to watch a lot of film and be dialed in on where we think the pressure is coming from. We need to have our answers in the run game and in the pass game. We just need to execute.”
Finley on if the Steelers defense is controlled chaos:
Offensive line coach Jim Turner on the Steelers defense:
“Their DNA in general. They’ve got some good players that are good football players. (Cam) Heyward’s a great player. Both of those defensive ends are really good pass rushers. They’re really good run stoppers. They play hard. I think it’ll be a great matchup. I think it’ll be a great battle because our guys play hard, too.”
Running back Joe Mixon on the running game being important because of the pass rush ability of the outside linebackers:
“Them boys like to get the edge with Bud (Dupree) and (T.J) Watt and get after the quarterback. If we can have that success, we’ll try to wear them down and hopefully they’ll be tired from rushing the passer because of the run.”
Finley on if he feels more motivated for rivalry games like this one:
“No. It’s another game. It’s a divisional game. All games are important. We need to go out there and show what we can do. It’s a new week to reinvent ourselves.”
Taylor on his biggest takeaway from the first game in regards to neutralizing the pass rush:
“You look at the miscommunication on the first sack when we ran a play-action. We had a miscommunication on who we were targeting, and we just gave up a free runner, which is unacceptable. We had a sack in the red zone where we got off on the cadence. We check out of a play and got off on the cadence and put ourselves in a tough spot there. You need to learn from those things. As the game went, I think we were down 24-3, 27-3, we were throwing the ball a lot and they were just teeing off. They have a hell of a pass rush. They can get it with their front four, they can pressure you, but those guys are really doing a nice job up front. If you end up dropping back like we did, it turned into a bit of a horror show there. We need to learn from that.”