The 10-4-1 Cincinnati Bengals will travel to Pittsburg to play the 10-5 Steelers in the last regular season game of 2014. The Steelers knew they were in for a tough game when they faced a Chiefs team last week that was in desperate need of in win. They also needed a win to secure their own playoff birth. Having been a perennial playoff team for all of head coach Mike Tomlin’s tenure, the team has been had to rebuild its roster over the last two seasons. The last time they were in the playoffs was 3 seasons ago when Tim Tebow led the Broncos to a stunning upset in the Wild Card round. Tomlin needed to reshape his roster and get back to a ground attack that has always been present in the Steelers organization regardless whom the coach was. The addition of Leveon Bell has solidified that position as he has rushed for over 1,300 yards and 8 touchdowns this season. Tomlin also showed that you must be a team first player when he cut running back Legarrette Blount after an act of insubordination. This team started the season slow at 3-3 but have gone 7-2 since then to clinch a playoff birth. While this group of Steelers is a young team overall, they can thank the presence of 36-year-old veteran James Harrison for the improved play of the defense. He came out of retirement earlier in the season and has been nothing short of spectacular. He had 1.5 sacks against the Chiefs last week and will be a force to be reckoned with come playoff time. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was 18/25 passing for 220 yards and a touchdown. Bell ran 20 times for 63 yards and a touchdown. Antonio Brown continued his incredible season
The Bengals also find themselves in the playoffs on the heels of their 37-28 win over the Broncos on Monday Night Football. They can tank their defense for intercepting Bronco quarterback Peyton Manning 2 times in the closing minutes to secure the victory. When Dre Kirkpatrick returned Manning’s third interception of the game for a touchdown it secured the win and a spot in the playoffs for the Bengals. Rookie running back Jeremy Hill continued to impress as he dominated with 22 carries for 147 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Andy Dalton settled down after an early interception and went 17/26 for 146 yards. The Bengals have a major concern in the health of A.J Green. He suffered an arm injury early in the game and was in and out of the game the rest of the way. He was held without a catch for only the second time in his career. They will need him if they plan on making a long playoff run.
With both teams clinching a playoff birth it is difficult to predict how many of the starters will play on Sunday Night. It may come down to which team has more depth. Both teams will have their eyes on the playoffs.
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