Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday Game Night in Cincinnati: Home, home on the Road

Antonio Brown returned a punt for a TD last Nov. 13 at Paul Brown Stadium

According to WLWT-TV News 5 in Cincinnati, Steelers fans began streaming into parking lots at Paul Brown Stadium and tailgating early this morning.  They should be in fine shape by this evening's kickoff at 8:20 p.m.   

For many Steelers fans, the trip to Cincinnati has become an annual pilgrimage -- and a source of profound embarrassment for the Cincinnati Bengals, their players and fans, and the Brown family ownership and management team.

Hordes of Black 'n Gold-clad fans take over Paul Brown Stadium every year -- to the point that Cincinnati TV stations make it a news story and local newspaper columnists decry the annual invasion of Pittsburgh faithful.  Well, to that, we say, "It's not our fault the Bengals can't sell out their own stadium."  

Can you imagine Pittsburgh television stations making a news story out of the descent of hordes of fans from a visiting team?  No.

Home Field Advantage for the Steelers?
For all that, we wonder:  Will it matter on Sunday night that the Steelers are 9-1 in Cincinnati over the past 10 years?  The Steelers have lost all three games on the road this season, and they were shaky on the road last season, too, even when they won.

A.J. Green's TD catch last year in Cincinnati.
The Steelers' last visit to Cincinnati, Nov. 13, 2011, produced a narrow, last-minute win. William Gay was the defensive star of the game. Not only did he break up four passes, including one deflection that went to Lawrence Timmons for an interception, but Gay's interception late in the fourth quarter stopped a Bengals drive deep in Steelers territory and sealed the win.

Remember that game?  Not to pick on Troy Polamalu, of all people, but he had a tough day. He looked lost on A.J. Green's leaping touchdown catch in the first quarter. Bengals' receiver Andrew Hawkins was a handful, and at one point, Polamaul reportedly told his coaches to change the defensive schemes to give him something he could sit on.  And Polamalu won't even play tonight. Look out.

Expect to see beaucoup throws in the direction of A.J. GreenAndrew Hawkins and Jermaine Grisham.   The Bengals' running game has been ineffective all season, and the Steelers' defense has struggled to mount a much of a pass rush, defend the pass or, you know, actually make an interception.

Defeat Cin
Having said all that, Joey Porter's Pit Bulls remain optimistic the Steelers will prevail.

If we're not mistaken, no Steelers' team under head coach Mike Tomlin has gone two games under .500.  That's not going to happen tonight.  The Steelers will not slip to 2-4.  After all, these are the Bungles.  And the Steelers have home-field advantage.

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