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Game Preview: Week 12 Steelers at Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals middle linebacker Nick Vigil (59) out in coverage against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019 in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Bengals middle linebacker Nick Vigil (59) out in coverage against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019 in Cincinnati.

Kickoff: 1 p.m. Eastern.

Television: The game will air on CBS-TV. In Cincinnati, it will be carried by WKRC-TV (Ch. 12). Broadcasters are Andrew Catalon (play-by-play), James Lofton (analyst) and John Schriffen (sideline 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 return home to Paul Brown Stadium to take on the division-rival Pittsburgh Steelers. Cincinnati is still in search of its first win of the season, after falling 17-10 at Oakland last week.

"We have to find a way to win," said head coach Zac Taylor. "That's what hurts the most, is right now we just haven't figured out a way to win."

The Bengals got off to a fast start at Oakland and jumped on top 7-0 in the first quarter, thanks to a 12-play, 77-yard drive that was capped by a three-yard TD run by Bay-area native Joe Mixon. Mixon celebrated the TD, his first rushing score of the season, by handing the ball to his mother in the stands.

"It was good to come back and try to ball out in front of the home crowd," Mixon said. "It's a blessing to be in this position. Honestly though, I'm playing for my team, so for us to fall short, it (stinks)."

The Bengals' momentum slowed after Mixon's TD, and Oakland went on to outscore Cincinnati 17-3 in the game's final three quarters. The Bengals had the ball late in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie the game with a TD, but Bengals QB Ryan Finley, who was making his first-career road start, was intercepted on a deep pass intended for WR Alex Erickson.

"It really hurts, because we went into that last drive expecting to win the game," Taylor said. "We played that whole game expecting to win — there wasn't a point where I thought it was going to get away from us.

"Our defense was getting some big stops and doing a good job in the run game. We just couldn't do enough in the fourth quarter offensively."

But while the season thus far hasn't gone as planned, Taylor has been consistent all season with his positive approach and outlook.

"I'm not going to worry about what everybody says about us right now," Taylor said. "We have great character, and we're going to build off of that right now. Unfortunately it hasn't started the way any of us anticipated, but we're all going to keep a positive mindset and keep learning from everything we've experienced in these losses. This year is going to be that foundation for some great things we do in the future. I know everybody asks, 'Is there going to be in-fighting?' There hasn't been.Guys still believe. We practice like we're going to win the game, and we prepare like we're going to win the game."

Pittsburgh enters Sunday's matchup 5-5, after falling 21-7 at Cleveland last week on Thursday Night Football.

The series: The Steelers lead 65-35 overall and 31-19 as the visiting team. The series includes two postseason games, both Steelers wins in Wild Card round contests at Paul Brown Stadium, after the 2005 and '15 seasons.

The Bengals have played more games against the Steelers (100) than any other foe. Cleveland is second in that category at 91, and Tennessee (formerly Houston Oilers) is third at 75.

Bengals-Steelers connections: Bengals WR Tyler Boyd is from Clairton, Pa. (Clairton High School), and played at the University of Pittsburgh ... Bengals OT/G Fred Johnson was a college free agent signee of the Steelers earlier this year, and was with Pittsburgh for their first six games this season ... Steelers WR Johnny Holton played at the University of Cincinnati ...Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (Reserve/Injured) is from Findlay, Ohio, and played at Miami (Ohio) University ... Bengals K Randy Bullock was with the Steelers in 2016 ... Bengals CB B.W. Webb was with the Steelers in 2014 ... 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 ... Steelers P Jordan Berry played at Eastern Kentucky University ... Steelers RB Benny Snell Jr. and LB Bud Dupree both played at the University of Kentucky. Snell is also from Columbus, Ohio (Westerville Central High School) ... Steelers DT Cameron Heyward, TE Nick Vannett and LB Ryan Shazier (Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform) all played at Ohio State University. Vannett is also from Westerville, Ohio (Westerville Central High School) ... Steelers WR Diontae Johnson, LB Jayrone Elliott and LB Olasunkanmi Adeniyi all played at the University of Toledo ... Steelers FB Roosevelt Nix (Reserve/Injured) is from Reynoldsburg, Ohio (Reynoldsburg High School) ... Bengals defensive line coach Nick Eason played for the Steelers from 2007-10 ... Bengals quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt is from Pittsburgh, and played quarterback at the University of Pittsburgh from 1989-92.

Bengals turn to rookie QB Finley: Bengals head coach Zac Taylor announced at his Oct. 29 news conference that rookie Ryan Finley would take over as the team's starting quarterback after the Week 9 bye. Finley replaced ninth-year QB Andy Dalton, the Bengals' all-time leader in passer rating (88.0) and winning percentage as a starter (.539; 68-58-2).

After a players' day off on Monday (Oct. 28), due to the team's late arrival from London early that morning, Taylor addressed the change with each position group on Tuesday morning.

Taylor, though, said he did speak individually with veterans like WR A.J. Green, Dalton's No. 1 target since the two entered the NFL together as the Bengals' top two draft picks in 2011.

T.B. chasing 100: Ten games into the 2019 season, WR Tyler Boyd remains in position to make a run at becoming just the third Bengal ever to catch 100 passes in a single season. Former Bengals WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh's 117 receptions in 2007 are the most in team history, with WR Carl Pickens' 100 catches in 1996 counting as the only other instance of a Bengal reaching the 100-catch plateau.

Boyd so far this season has 58 catches, and sits slightly behind pace to hit 100 catches. Houshmandzadeh had 76 catches through 10 games in 2007, and Pickens had 62 in 1996. Boyd would need to average 7.0 catches over the Bengals' final six games to reach 100, and 9.0 receptions to equal Houshmandzadeh's 112.

25 points does the trick: Since 2011, the Bengals own a 46-1-2 record (.959) when scoring 25 or more points. Only Miami has a better winning percentage, at .971 (33-1-0), when topping the 25-point mark over that span.

The Bengals have yet to reach to 25-point plateau in a game this season. In 2018, they were a perfect 6-0 when scoring 25 points or more, and 0-10 when failing to hit the mark.

Dunlap's, Atkins' dominance = team success: Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap and DT Geno Atkins entered the NFL together in 2010 as draft picks of the Bengals, and in the 10 seasons since they've established themselves among the top pass-rushing duos in the league. Most importantly though, the record shows that when Dunlap and Atkins are at their most dominant, it usually spells success for Cincinnati.

The Bengals are 10-6 (.625) when Dunlap records more than one sack, and 8-6 (.571) when Atkins records more than one sack. There have been two instances in which both have had more than one sack in the same game (Bengals are 1-1 in those contests), which means Cincinnati is a combined 17-11 (.607) when getting more than one sack from either player.

The Bengals are 7-1 since the beginning of the 2015 season when Dunlap records more than one sack, with the only outlier coming in a 20-17 overtime loss at Denver in 2015. Dunlap had a career-best three sacks in that Denver game and finished 2015 with a career-high 13.5, second-most in Bengals history.

Since 2015, the Bengals are 6-4 when Atkins has more than one sack. The Bengals are 0-2 this season when Atkins records more than one sack — two sacks in Game 7 vs. Jacksonville, and 1.5 sacks in Game 10 at Oakland. Dunlap has not recorded more than one sack in a game this season, due in part to missing two contests (Games 6-7) with a knee injury.

Dunlap and Atkins are under contract with the Bengals through the '21 and '22 seasons, respectively. Atkins (75.5 career sacks) currently stands second on the Bengals' all-time sack list, and Dunlap (74 career sacks) is third. The Bengals' leader in career sacks is DE Eddie Edwards, with 83.5.

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