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Notes: NFL's No. 1 offense next; Concern for Geathers; Miles clears

Posted Sep 17, 2013

The Bengals ended Monday's 20-10 victory over the Steelers with just three healthy cornerbacks and a looming 1 p.m. Sunday date at Paul Brown Stadium with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his NFL-leading offense.


Chris Lewis-Harris

Updated: 8:10 p.m.

The Bengals' release of running back Bernard Scott off the physically unable to perform list Tuesday may foreshadow other moves this week. But if those moves come they would be directed at the defensive backfield, where the Bengals ended Monday's 20-10 victory over the Steelers with just three healthy cornerbacks and a looming 1 p.m. Sunday date at Paul Brown Stadium with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his NFL-leading offense.

There is concern that backup left end Robert Geathers may have suffered a serious enough arm injury Monday night that it could affect his staus for the rest of the season. Also it's believed that safety Jeromy Miles cleared waivers and the club may have some interest in re-signing him.

But the cornerbacks are a hot topic with the Packers primarily a three-receiver set team with Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones third, 15th and 19th, respectively, in NFL receiving yardage.

Fourth cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick missed the last quarter Monday with a hamstring injury and No. 5 Brandon Ghee (concussion) has missed the first two games with a concussion. Both figure to be evaluated Tuesday, which means practice-squadder Chris Lewis-Harris could be on deck, as well as available free agents.

The top three Bengals cornerbacks have played a ton of snaps already this season. Leon Hall played all 57 Monday, Terence Newman played 53 and Adam Jones played 49. Jones struggled in the first half, but bounced back later in the game when defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer switched up coverages.

Scott, who tore his ACL back on Oct. 7 against the Dolphins at PBS, found himself on the outside looking in a year later with the drafting of running back Giovani Bernard and Rex Burkhead, and the selection of Daniel Herron the year before. Like Scott in 2009, Herron and Burkhead are sixth-round picks, and if Scott is healthy he'll help somebody.

After returning a kick for the only touchdown in the War of 18-12 in '09 in Pittsburgh, Scott battled either injury or under use. With Bernard clearly entrenched as the speed back, the Bengals ran out of spots.

Geathers is the dean of the Bengals defense with 136 games and backs up Carlos Dunlap, but is a key part of the defensive line rotation. Miles, the club's top returning special teams player, was released before the game when the Bengals made room for an extra linebacker in J.K. Schaffer.

BURFICT GAME: WILL backer Vontaze Burfict continues to emerge as a potential Pro Bowl candidate with another team-high nine tackles against the Steelers, a number that no doubt is going to expand after the coaches look at the film. He played every snap eight days after limping off Soldier Field with a thigh injury that kept him out one play and limited one practice last week.

He teamed with safety George Iloka to make a big stop on running back Isaac Redman on third-and-two to force a punt three snaps after the Bengals took a 17-10 lead.

Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga, who played 67 percent of the plays against basically base personnel, also played the run well as the Bengals held Pittsburgh to 44 yards rushing, their lowest total against the Steelers since 1999.

SAM backer James Harrison played just 14 snaps after playing 39 in Chicago.

"The (Steelers) went out and they were going to go three-wide (receivers), so we stayed in a lot of nickel defenses. The guys that were out there, they played stout," he said.

SACK ATTACK: Who would have guessed that run-stuffing tackle Domata Peko would have been in on the first sack of the season surrounded by all these high-profile sackers? Peko split it with one of them, left end Carlos Dunlap, as they both bull-rushed to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Peko, who has had five sacks in the previous four seasons, said the coaches advised the line to bull rush and get Roethlisberger jammed up enough that he couldn't get his feet going to move out of the pocket.

The other sack was more conventional, a pure Geno Atkins speed rush on third-and-20.

SLANTS AND SCREENS

» Speaking of Bernard, he ran his 27-yard touchdown so quickly Monday night that he needed only one block at the goal line and got a good one when wide receiver A.J. Green shielded cornerback Ike Taylor. Green was part of the play where the Bengals sent four receivers deep and straight, and it opened the width of the field for Bernard.

» Bernard is on pace to carry the ball 96 times and BenJarvus Green-Ellis 252. That ratio is probably going to shift a bit.

» As much as quarterback Andy Dalton struggled compared to his outing in Chicago last week (he was 1-for-7 on passes of at lesst 20 yards according to Pro Football Focus), he steered the Bengals to a no-turnover outing, racked up his first 80-plus passer rating against the Steelers (81.7) and won his 20th regular-season game in his 34th start. Only Carson Palmer got there quicker for the Bengals, beating the Steelers in his 32nd game nearly seven years to the day on Sept. 24, 2006. Dalton is also the second Bengals quarterback to beat the Steelers in back-to-back games since Boomer Esiason led the 1990 sweep of Pittsburgh and Palmer duplicated it in 2009. The Bengals swept the Steelers in 1998, but Neil O'Donnell and Jeff Blake each got a win.

» According to an ESPN press release, Monday night's Bengals victory ranked as the top telecast of the night across cable and broadcast in the key male and adult demos (second among households and viewers). The release said the Bengals-Steelers telecast earned a 9.1 U.S. rating, representing an average of 10,485,000 households and 14,329,000 viewers, according to Nielsen. Coverage peaked from 10-10:15 p.m. with a 10.4 US rating.
In Pittsburgh, the game delivered an 11.9 rating on ESPN and a 27.9 on WTAE-ABC, for a combined 39.8 rating in the market. In Cincinnati, the game delivered a 14.4 rating on ESPN and a 23.9 on WLWT-NBC, for a combined 38.3 rating in the market.
The top 10 metered markets (in addition to the markets of the competing teams): Dayton, Ohio (21.8), Baltimore (16.7), Richmond-Petersburg, Va. (16.3), New Orleans (16.2), Columbus, Ohio (15.6), Washington, D.C. (14.1), San Diego (13.9), Sacramento (13.5), Las Vegas (13.2) and Nashville (13.1).

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