A look at what the Steelers will be up against on Sunday afternoon against Cincinnati:
The Steelers prepare for the Week 2 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals.
A.J. ALL DAY:** The Bengals survived the Jets last Sunday, 23-22, despite rushing for just 57 yards and surrendering seven sacks (a record total against QB Andy Dalton).
WR A.J. Green (12 catches, 180 yards, one touchdown) played a major role.
Green lined up wide-left, wide-right, slot-left, slot-right, wide-left as part of a gimmick formation behind TE/HB Ryan Hewitt and LT Andrew Whitworth, and in the backfield. And Green wound up with 12 catches on 13 targets, the only exception to a completion being a low throw that took a replay challenge to determine that Green hadn't been cleanly picked the ball from just above the turf after all. The Jets never got a hand on 13 passes thrown in Green's direction.
CBS analyst Phil Simms detected the simplicity of Cincinnati's attack.
"If you play 'em off, they throw it quick underneath," Simms said. "If you bump-and-run, they try to throw in over the top."
The Bengals did both with Green to CB Darrelle Revis, who didn't make a habit of redirecting Green when playing press coverage.
Green's monster day included:
-A 54-yard TD down the seam on which the Jets appeared to botch the coverage and Revis didn't get anticipated safety help.
-A 29-yard catch-and-run flanker screen that would have gone even farther had Green been more precise navigating the sideline after a cut (Bengals wide receivers, tight ends and offensive lineman are mobile enough to get out and clear a path on such attempts and Green is patient enough to let it happen).
-A 32-yard gain thanks to an extending, over-the-shoulder reception down the sideline despite tight coverage from Revis that was beaten by a great throw and an even better catch.
Green's still a machine but he also remains susceptible to fumbling after the catch because of less-than-ideal ball security while on the move.
WHO DEY:** The Bengals' roster contains a host of familiar names (a couple in new places) and some new faces.
The noticable changes on offense include 2015 No. 1 pick Cedric Ogbuehi at RT (Andre Smith) and WR Brandon LaFell starting (Marvin Jones). Rookie No. 2 pick Tyler Boyd is the third receiver (Mohamed Sanu) and James Wright is perceived as the Sanu-type receiver (capable of handling Wildcat snaps and passing).
On defense, DE Margus Hunt is getting reserve reps once handled by Wallace Gilberry. LB Karlos Dansby has replaced A.J. Hawk and LB Vincent Rey, traditionally a sub-package player, is filling in during LB Vontaze Burfict's suspension. SS Shawn Williams, whose sub-package experience includes an interception at Heinz Field last season, has taken over for Reggie Nelson (Williams is more of a box safety and lacks Nelson's range). CB Darquez Dennard (No. 1, 2014) projects as the first sub-package DB when healthy.
SECONDARY OPTIONS: WR Brandon Marshall and WR Eric Decker combined for just five receptions for 69 yards, and the Jets targeted those two a combined 15 times.
The Bengals are apparently still interested in making someone other than the go-to receiver beating them.
That appeared to be the approach against the Steelers a season ago, when TE Heath Miller wound up with a combined 20 catches for 171 yards and WR Antonio Brown managed 13 receptions for 134 yards in two regular-season games.
JEREMY "DOWN" HILL:** Cincinnati only averaged 3.0 yards on 19 rushing attempts against New York, but RB Jeremy Hill (9-31, 3.4) still gave an indication of what the Bengals are capable of on the ground during what became a 12-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Hill started left and then cut hard inside behind G Clint Boiling, who came off a double-team block of DT Leonard Williams and took out LB David Harris.
Hill cut left again, engaged S Marcus Gilchrist at the Jets' 5-yard line, knocked Gilchrist on his back and ran through attempted tackles by LB Darron Lee and CB Marcus Williams and into the end zone.
Hill also made a point of wrapping both arms around the ball before blasting into Gilchrist.
Hill fumbled when the Bengals were trying to run the clock out against the Steelers in the playoffs last season.
Another attention-getting run occurred on first-and-10 from the Bengals' 25 in the fourth quarter. RB Giovani Bernard was met by a pair of Jets at the Bengals' 28 but kept his legs churning. By the time he was in the proximity of the Cincinnati 30, the pile had grown to include seven Jets and six Bengals and was still moving.
Bernard was finally dragged down at the Bengals' 36 after a gain of 11.
"It kinda says a lot about this Bengals offense and who they are," Simms observed. "They just keep going."
SEVEN SACKS: Factors in Dalton repeatedly hitting the deck looked to included:
-Green blocking when Dalton appeared intent on hitting him on a slant (miscommunication).
-Dalton stepping up and into trouble on a couple of occasions (decision-making).
-Hill not getting out into the flat quickly enough and C Russell Bodine releasing DT Steve McLendon when McLendon was right on top of Dalton on an attempted screen (execution).
The Jets' pressure was much more attributable to winning up front than blitzing.