Monday, January 09, 2006

Steelers Headed Back to Circle City

A near perfect performance by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger gave the Pittsburgh Steelers just what it wanted: A chance to get another shot at the Indianapolis Colts.

Reothlisberger completed 14 of 19 passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns to beat the Bengals 31-17 in Cincinnati. It was the Bengals' first playoff game in 15 years, and the Steelers' first playoff win on the road in 16 years.

The Steelers rushed for 144 yards, but had no 100-yard rushers. Much of the focus of the game was placed on Pittsburgh's running game, and for the most part, Cincinnati's defense came up big against the run. Jerome Bettis ran in the go ahead touchdown in the third quarter and led the Steelers' rushing attack with 52 yards on 10 carries, most of which came in third-and-short situations.

“For me it was important, because that is my role," Bettis said. "Third-and-one, I am licking my chops because it’s my opportunity to come in and make an impact in the game. When they called my number, I knew I had to get my yard. On the first one, a guy was free in the hole and I had to just make him miss and get a yard. I was able to do that. I feel really proud to be able to get those tough yards.”

Cincinnatis' Pro Bowl quarterback, Carson Palmer went down on his third play from scrimmage with torn ligaments in his left knee on a hit by Steeler Kimo von Oelhoeffen. Palmer completed a 66-yard pass to Chris Henry before the hit.

“I knew right away it was bad,” Palmer said in a statement through the Bengals public relations department. “I felt my whole knee pop. I didn’t feel a lot of pain. It wasn’t really painful. It was just a sickening feeling because I knew what it was and my season was over."

Roethlisberger rallied the Steelers after being down by 10 points twice in the game.

"I told the guys we should batten down the hatches, weather this out and hopefully when it goes away we can step it up and play good football, and I think we did when it mattered,” Roethlisberger said. “I think my play and our play spoke volumes... I have to give a lot of credit to the Bengals, they came out and were firing on all cylinders. They gave us a few 1-2 punches in the mouth, and I think we weathered the storm very well and we were able to keep it under control."

Pittsburgh travles to Indianapolis Sunday for a 1:00 game against the Colts. The Steelers have had success against the Colts in the playoffs winning their last two meetings both in 1995 for the AFC Championship and 1996 both at Pittsburgh. This Colts team is diferrent, however, and are already 9 1/2 point favorites. Indianpolis laid down the law in a Monday night matchup of the two teams earlier this season for a 26-7 drubbing of the Steelers. The noise and fan support in the RCA dome was a considerable factor in that game and drew allegations that noise had been artificially piped in.

“I don’t think that game matters at all,” Colts' coach Tony Dungy said. “It’s how you play that particular game. They’re going to look at the tape and see things they can do better and that they feel like they should have done differently. We can’t rely on the fact that we’re at home, or that we managed to beat them early in the season.”



Winning its last five games, all five must-win situations, the Steelers are happy to be moving on and look to attempt to ground Peyton Manning's high-powered offense while trying to get the running game going against a Colts defense that completely shut them down in their first meeting.

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