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Bengals Open The Second Half Of The 2020 Season At Pittsburgh


Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. Eastern.

Television: The game will air on FOX-TV. In the Bengals' home region, it will be carried by WXIX-TV (Ch. 19) in Cincinnati, WGRT-TV (Ch. 45) in Dayton, WDKY-TV (Ch. 56) in Lexington, and WTTE-TV (Ch. 28) in Columbus. Broadcasters are Kenny Albert (play-by-play), Jonathan Vilma (analyst) and Shannon Spake (reporter).

Radio: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530; all sports) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst).

Setting the scene: The Bengals this week travel to Pittsburgh to take on the division-rival Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday.

Cincinnati is coming off of its bye week, but will be looking to carry the momentum of its impressive Week 8 win over the Tennessee Titans.

"For the guys in the locker room, this is the expectation," said Bengals head coach Zac Taylor after the win. "We earned this, and we needed it, especially going into the bye. These players have done everything we asked them to do. The reward to this point hadn't been in the win column, but to say anybody is shocked (by the win) would be untrue, because we know we've been capable of this all along."

Cincinnati entered its matchup against the 5-1 Titans facing long odds, as five offensive starters missed the contest due to injury/illness. The list of absent Bengals included the team's leading rusher, HB Joe Mixon, along with four of the five offensive linemen who had started the previous week — LOT Jonah Williams, LG Michael Jordan, C Trey Hopkins and ROT Bobby Hart. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was just the second game in team history that featured as many as four starters along the offensive line who did not start Cincinnati's previous contest; the only other instance was the first game with replacement players during the 1987 player strike.

But despite the trying circumstances up front, Cincinnati's offensive line played well. The group paved the way for two Bengals rushing TDs, held the Titans without a sack, and helped Cincinnati to a nearly 12-minute edge in time of possession.

Despite weather conditions that produced gusts of wind up to 35 MPH throughout the afternoon, Burrow completed 70.3 percent of his passes, posted a 106.7 passer rating, and threw for 249 yards and two TDs.

"The offensive line played great," Burrow said. "And we have great guys on the outside that know what they're doing in zone coverage and are able to beat man coverage. We got the ball out of my hand fast, the guys fought for extra yardage, and we got the job done."

Tennessee trailed 17-7 entering the fourth quarter, but then mounted two TD drives in the final period to stay within reach. Burrow and the Bengals' offense, though, kept their foot on the gas with two TD drives of their own, and Cincinnati held on for a 31-20 victory.

While the Bengals' upset of the Titans perhaps signaled a trend in the right direction, Cincinnati this week faces the ultimate litmus test in the form of a road game against the rival Steelers, the NFL's lone unbeaten team. It will be Burrow's first game against Pittsburgh, a foe Cincinnati has struggled to beat in recent years.

The Steelers enter this week's matchup 8-0, after beating the Dallas Cowboys 24-19 on Sunday.

Bengals-Steelers connections: Bengals WR Tyler Boyd is from Clairton, Pa. (Clairton High School), and also played at the University of Pittsburgh ... Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is from Findlay, Ohio, and played at Miami (Ohio) University ...Bengals K Randy Bullock was with the Steelers in 2016 ... Bengals G/C B.J. Finney originally was a college free agent signee of the Steelers in 2015, and was with the team through the '19 season ... Bengals G/OT Fred Johnson originally was a college free agent signee of the Steelers in 2019 ... Steelers RB Benny Snell Jr., LB Bud Dupree, LB Avery Williamson and DE Calvin Taylor (practice squad) all played at the University of Kentucky. Snell is also from Columbus, Ohio (Westerville Central High School) ... Steelers DT Cameron Heyward played at Ohio State University ... Steelers WR Diontae Johnson, LB Olasunkanmi Adeniyi and LB Jayrone Elliott (practice squad) all played at the University of Toledo ... Steelers P Jordan Berry played at Eastern Kentucky University ... Steelers DL Chris Wormley (Reserve/Injured) is from Toledo, Ohio (Whitmer High School) ... Steelers senior defensive assistant/secondary coach Teryl Austin was Bengals defensive coordinator in 2018 ... Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was defensive backs coach at the University of Cincinnati from 1999-2000 ... Bengals defensive line coach Nick Eason played for the Steelers from 2007-10 ... Bengals linebackers coach Al Golden played TE at Penn State University from 1987-91, and coached there in 2000.

Burrow already making history: Not only has Bengals rookie QB Joe Burrow turned heads with his playmaking ability so far this season, his stats rank among the best ever by a first-time starting QB. His 221 completions are the most in NFL history by any QB through the first eight games of their career, while his 330 pass attempts rank second and 2272 passing yards are fifth.

Burrow ranks third in the NFL in both completions and pass attempts this season. It should be noted, though, that Burrow has played eight games, while the two players in front of him — Atlanta's Matt Ryan (236 for 351) and Tampa Bay's Tom Brady (226 for 346) — both have played nine. Burrow's passing yardage total ranks eighth, however five of the seven players in front of him have played nine games.

Burrow's 300-yard games make history: Bengals rookie QB Joe Burrow has five 300-yard passing games so far this season, tied for second-most ever among NFL rookies, and just one shy of the rookie record (six, by Colts QB Andrew Luck in 2012). Burrow started the season by passing for 300 yards in five of his first seven games, a feat only 14 other QBs in league history have pulled off at any point of their career. He's also the only rookie ever to do it.

Burrow's five 300-yard passing games have already tied the Bengals single-season record, set by Boomer Esiason (strike-shortened 1987 season), Carson Palmer (2007) and Andy Dalton (2013). Dalton also holds the team record for most consecutive 300-yard passing games, with four (Games 6-9 in 2013). Earlier this season, Burrow became the only rookie QB in NFL history to ever throw for 300 yards in three consecutive games, when he hit the mark in Game 2 at Cleveland (316), Game 3 at Philadelphia (312) and Game 4 vs. Jacksonville (300).

T.B. chasing T.J.: Although there's still a long way to go in the 2020 season, WR Tyler Boyd has positioned himself to make a run at former Bengals WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh's team record for receptions in a season. Houshmandzadeh's 112 catches in 2007 stand as the top mark in team history, with WR Carl Pickens' 100 in 1996 counting as the only other instance of a Bengal reaching the 100-catch plateau.

Boyd so far this season has a team-high 54 catches, good for a 6.8-catch per game pace which projects out to 108 catches for a full 16 game slate.

Houshmandzadeh had 62 catches through eight games in 2007, and Pickens had 44. Boyd needs to maintain a pace of 5.8 catches over the remaining 10 games in order to reach 100 for the season, and 7.3 to equal Houshmandzadeh's 112.

Boyd's 54 catches this year currently stand fourth in the AFC and ninth league wide.

Higgins eyeing Bengals rookie records: WR Tee Higgins' impressive start has put him on a trajectory that by season's end could land him among the top rookie pass-catchers in team history.

Higgins' 33 catches through eight games project out to 66 for a full 16-game slate. That total would be the second-most ever by a Bengals rookie, behind WR Cris Collinsworth (67). Rounding out the current top five in that category are WR A.J. Green (65), HB Giovani Bernard (56), WR Tyler Boyd (54) and WR Eddie Brown (53).

Higgins' 488 receiving yards so far project out to 976 over 16 games. That total would rank fourth in team history behind Green (1057) and Collinsworth (1009).. Rounding out the top five in that category are Brown (942), and WRs Darnay Scott (866) and Isaac Curtis (843).

Higgins (three TDs) could also conceivably approach the 47-year old rookie record of nine receiving TDs, set in 1973 by WR Isaac Curtis. Collinsworth and Brown (both had eight) are tied for second in that category, followed by Green (seven) and WR Chris Henry (six).

Higgins, though, has some catching up to do to land in the top five in yards per reception by a rookie. He currently is averaging 14.8 yards per catch, well behind the top five — Scott (18.83), Curtis (18.73), Brown (17.77), TE Bob Trumpy (17.27) and TE Don Bass (16.56).

Geno has Edwards in his sights: With 75.5 career sacks, Bengals DT Geno Atkins stands in third place on the team's all-time sack list, behind DEs Eddie Edwards (83.5 sacks) and Carlos Dunlap (82.5).

Atkins, who did not play the first four games this season due to a shoulder injury, has more than double the number of sacks of the next-closest interior defensive lineman in Bengals history (Tim Krumrie, 34.5). Atkins also missed nearly half of the 2013 season with a torn ACL. He has finished with at least a share of the NFL lead for sacks by an interior lineman five times in his 10 NFL seasons.

NOTE: The NFL has counted sacks as official statistics since 1982. However, the Bengals have sack statistics compiled since 1976 and recognize those sacks recorded from '76-81 in its records. Thus, please note that, because the NFL has sacks statistics for all teams only since 1982, the Bengals' sack statistics for players whose careers included seasons prior to '82 will not be included in league information.

25 points does the trick: Since 2011, the Bengals own a 49-5-2 record when scoring 25 or more points. That's good for the fourth-best winning percentage (.893) in the NFL when topping the 25-point mark over that span.

The Bengals, though, are 3-4 under head coach Zac Taylor (2-3 this season) when reaching the 25-point plateau.

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