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Quick hits: Dre knows the score; Vigil, Vinny out; Lawson jacks lead; Half empty

Posted Nov 30, 2017

Dre Kirkpatrick would like to repeat a Monday night moment.

Dre Kirkpatrick shoots from the hip, which is how he plays Steeler great Antonio Brown. So naturally Kirkpatrick isn’t shying away from how big Monday night’s game is against Pittsburgh (8:25-ESPN, Cincinnati’s Channel 5) at Paul Brown Stadium.


Not with the Steelers at 9-2 and the Bengals at 5-6.

“Guys saying it's not big because we're playing the Steelers, I feel like they're lying,” Kirkpatrick said before Thursday’s practice. “Because it is a big game, especially with the position we've put ourselves in. It's a big game, man. It's definitely a big game for me. I remember what happened. At the end of the day, we've got to go out there and get this W.”

The Steelers have treated the Bengals with disdain on the field and Twitter since last month’s 29-14 victory at Heinz Field. Running back Le’Veon Bell tweeted all over Bengals rookie running back Joe Mixon for imitating him on the field and Bell and Brown teamed up after a touchdown to imitate  Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green’s headlock of Jalen Ramsey that got  Green ejected in Jacksonville.

They say the Steelers are in the Bengals’ heads, but the Steelers sure seem to have the Bengals on their minds. Kirkpatrick considers Brown a friend from the offseason, so he’s not too fired up about the drama.

“I don't follow too many of those guys. I follow AB, but I don't get on social media to see what guys are talking about or stuff like that,” Kirkpatrick said. “I don't really buy into that. That ain't what I do. Like I said, we know what's going on. We know the magnitude of this game. We're going to control what we can control. And I feel that by us having the home-field advantage, we can control the crowd noise and certain things like that to kind of distract those guys.”

Brown has been destroying teams this year, like last Sunday night when he put up 10 catches for 169 yards and many of the plays were spectacular in the victory over Green Bay. He is by far the NFL leader with 1,195 yards and 80 catches, or 109 yards and seven catches per game. In the win over the Bengals, he did have a touchdown, but the Bengals kept him at bay with four catches for 65 yards and according to profootball focus.com, Kirkpatrick held him to one catch on two targets for 19 yards.

The Steelers swept them last year, but Brown didn’t go off then, either. He had four catches for 39 yards in the first game and five for 58 in the second with no touchdowns. According to PFF, Kirkpatrick gave Brown just one catch for three yards on one target.

“When you look at games like that, he's not getting challenged at the line,” Kirkpatrick said of the Packers game. “He's running free. But when you press him, that's when you see him have problems. And that's what I've had success at. He knows I'm going to be hands on.”

Kirkpatrick supplied one of the Bengals' best Monday night memories ever on Dec. 28, 2014 when his pick-six against Denver and Peyton Manning in the dying moments at PBS put the Bengals in the postseason. He agrees they need another play like that this Monday, kind of like when he victimized Denver again two weeks ago with his 101-yard return.

"At the end of the day I've been screaming that we've got to win our moments. The last two weeks that's what I've been saying," Kirkpatrick said. "We're all with it because when you've got moments when you can make a big play and you don't make a big play or you drop an interception or you drop a touchdown, you're not winning your moment. I feel like we've got to win our moments. They're going to present themselves. We just have to go out there and take them ... I won mine in Denver. I saw the ball, it touched my hands, I caught it and ran it down. That was a moment.


INJURY UPDATE: The Bengals are low on linebackers as they continue to prepare for the Steelers. Outside backers Nick Vigil (ankle) and Vincent Rey (hamstring) weren’t the field Thursday and neither was starting strong safety Shawn Williams (hamstring) …


LAW OF LAND: Right end Carl Lawson added to his NFL rookie sack lead without taking a snap this week. The NFL awarded him half a sack after reviewing tape of the Nov. 19 win in Denver. Lawson requested a review on a play two minutes into the second quarter and they gave him half sack on a play WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict originally got a full sack.

But he can’t get back the fourth-and-10 sack he lost in Cleveland, not to mention his two front teeth, because the Bengals wanted to get the game over instead of challenge, or the sack he lost in Green Bay via penalty.

“I turned it in a while ago. I didn’t think I was going to get it because I hadn’t heard anything,” Lawson said.  “Hopefully everything will be definitive the rest of the way.”

It means Lawson has 7.5 sacks, just two away from left end Carlos Dunlap’s club rookie sack record of 9.5. But they’re not talking about it. Certainly not Lawson.

“Everyone keeps asking me about it. I keep saying I'm not really worried about it,” Lawson said. “I feel like Carlos felt the same way when he broke the record. He wants to compete with the guys who have the most sacks in the league. I don't really see it as that big of a thing. As far as myself, I want to compete with the guys who are the best in the league as far as pass rushers. I'm not really worried about that sack record.”

Ok, that number is 12, held by Minnesota’s Everson Griffen and Arizona’s Chandler Jones.

“I've come to realize that when you force things and stuff like that, it doesn't fall into place. We just work off each other and try to be as helpful as we can,” Lawson said. “One guy rushes up high, another guy rushes low and that guy gets the sack. It's a group effort.”


HALF EMPTY: The Bengals have had a problem since the Steelers kicked two field goals in the final 1:50 of the half to make a 14-14 game 20-14. Since then, in four of the last five games, the opponent has kicked a field goal in the last 23 seconds, three of them at the gun. And the one team that didn’t, Denver, had a chance at the gun but Brandon McManus’ 61-yarder got blocked by cornerback KeiVarae Russell. Actually, McManus made his first one but it got waved off by Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis’ timeout.
“It's all situation. My job is to limit the points and manage the game and see how is the game coming,” said defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. “Are we up by two scores? Are we down by a touchdown? What is it and how aggressive can you be with the calls? At the end of the half there (against Cleveland) I probably blitzed three times in that one. We got beat up the seam on the one and that's one Nick (Vigil) got hurt on, hurt his ankle, rolled it and that tight end is open. It's all situational how you handle that stuff.
“If you blitz the guy and he hits you in Cover 0 and it's man-to-man it's, ‘Why did you blitz in that situation?’ If you're playing too soft in the zone, it's ‘Why?’ You have to understand where the ball is at, what the situation (is), how many timeouts. All these things go into account of that.”


HALF EMPTY: The Bengals have had a problem since the Steelers kicked two field goals in the final 1:50 of the half to make a 14-14 game 20-14. Since then, in four of the last five games, the opponent has kicked a field goal in the last 23 seconds, three of them at the gun. And the one team that didn’t, Denver, had a chance at the gun but Brandon McManus’ 61-yarder got blocked by cornerback KeiVarae Russell. Actually, McManus made his first one but it got waved off by Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis’ timeout.


“It's all situation. My job is to limit the points and manage the game and see how is the game coming,” said defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. “Are we up by two scores? Are we down by a touchdown? What is it and how aggressive can you be with the calls? At the end of the half there (against Cleveland) I probably blitzed three times in that one. We got beat up the seam on the one and that's one Nick (Vigil) got hurt on, hurt his ankle, rolled it and that tight end is open. It's all situational how you handle that stuff.


“If you blitz the guy and he hits you in Cover 0 and it's man-to-man it's, ‘Why did you blitz in that situation?’ If you're playing too soft in the zone, it's ‘Why?’ You have to understand where the ball is at, what the situation (is), how many timeouts. All these things go into account of that.”

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