Playoff win in Cincy memorable and then some

View photos from the Steelers 31-17 victory in the AFC Wild Card Playoff game vs. the Bengals on Jan. 8, 2006.

It's memorable mostly for two reasons _ No. 1, the Steelers knocked Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer out of the game on Cincinnati's second offensive snap; and No. 2, the Steelers went on to register a resounding victory that ignited a run all the way to Super Bowl XL.

But the Steelers' 31-17 playoff victory exactly 10 years ago today at Paul Brown Stadium was much more nuanced and much more layered in nature.

A re-examination of that game uncovers unforgettable plays, to be certain, but also components of winning postseason football that are as critical today as they were a decade ago.


Yes, the Bengals lost Palmer the second time he touched the ball (and just after a 66-yard completion to WR Chris Henry). But Cincinnati was still able to establish leads of 10-0 after the first quarter and 17-14 at halftime.

The Steelers weren't deterred, as the old head coach liked to say. They stayed with it, kept at it and persevered.RUN TO WIN:

Both teams averaged 4.2 yards per carry but the Steelers had 34 attempts (for 144 yards and a touchdown) and the Bengals 20 (for 84 yards and a score). The Steelers ran it 12 times for 94 yards while in the process of closing things out in the fourth quarter, not including Ben Roethlisberger's three kneel-downs to end the game**.


Bill Cowher also believed the first offensive and defensive series of the second half provided an opportunity to seize momentum and perhaps to dictate how the final two quarters would play out. Cincinnati received the third-quarter kickoff and marched to the Pittsburgh 15-yard line but botched a field-goal attempt. The Steelers took over at their 34 and drove 66 yards in eight plays for a 21-17 lead, a lead the Steelers would never relinquish.BE READY FOR ANYTHING:

The Bengals tried a reverse during the return of the second-half kickoff. It went for 8 additional yards.

The Steelers tried a direct snap to wide receiver Antwaan Randle El and a throw-back to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who then threw down the field for wide receiver Cedrick Wilson. It went for 43 yards and a touchdown for a 28-17 third-quarter lead.ADJUST AS YOU MUST:

The Bengals gained 327 total net yards, but just 105 of those were amassed after halftime. Cincinnati quarterbacks went a combined 15-for-21 passing for 175 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions in the first two quarters (Palmer was 1-for-1). Bengals QB Jon Kitna went 10-for-20 for 88 yards with no touchdowns and two INTs in the third and fourth quarters.TURNOVERS, RED ZONE, PENALTIES MATTER:

The Steelers won takeaway/giveaway, 2-0. The Steelers went 3-for-5 in the red zone (60 percent) to the Bengals' 1-for-3 (33 percent). And the Steelers were penalized six times for 39 yards to the Bengals' seven times for 90 yards.

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