Posted: 7:25 a.m.
Here come the Steelers rushing into Sunday's AFC North first-place showdown against the Bengals on the strength of Rashard Mendenhall's 155 yards on just 22 carries in Monday night's dissection of Denver. So we know what the theme for the week is now. Can the revived, retooled and resourceful Bengals defense stand up to the Pittsburgh running game?
What has changed?
The Steelers aren't supposed to be able to run the ball and the Bengals aren't supposed to be able to stop it.
But that was a month ago. After two games the Bengals have allowed a combined 90 yards rushing and are ranked second in the NFL against the run. And after Mendenhall's effort against the Broncos, Pittsburgh is going to be abuzz with how its vaunted running game is back just in time for the game at Heinz Field against the Bengals.
Pittsburgh always seems to get its running game going whenever a date with the Bengals looms. In the last 18 seasons the Steelers have had 23 100-yard games against Cincinnati with seven different rushers for a record of 19-4. The key? Don't let Mendenhall become the eighth Sunday.
And if anybody knows that, it is Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. Lewis came into the NFL when Bill Cowher took the Steelers job in 1992 and in the ensuing 15 seasons the Steelers had a 100-yard rushing game against Cincinnati 21 times in which Pittsburgh's record was 17-4.
The pace has slowed slightly under head coach Mike Tomlin. In his five games against the Bengals, there have been two 100-yard rushers. But with that stingy defense, the result is the same. The Steelers are 2-0. There must be something magic about that number. Willie Parker nearly reached it back in September at Paul Brown Stadium with 93 yards on 25 carries. But he was short and so were the Steelers when the Bengals won the game in the final 14 seconds.
Here is the list of 100-yard rushers since 1992:
» 10-19-92: Barry Foster, 24 carries for 108 yards in 20-0 Steelers win at Pitt
» 11-29-92: Foster, 25-102 in 21-9 Steelers win at Cincy
» 9-19-93: Foster, 23-103 in 34-7 Steelers win at Pitt
» 11-7-93: Foster, 25-120 in 24-16 Steelers win at Cincy
» 12-4-94: Bam Morris, 24-108 in 38-15 Steelers win at Cincy
» 11-19-95: Morris, 16-101 in 49-31 Steelers win at Cincy
» 10-13-96: Jerome Bettis, 28-109 in 20-10 Steelers win at Pitt
» 11-10-96: Bettis, 21-111 in 34-24 Bengals win at Cincy
» 10-19-97: Bettis, 34-135 in 26-10 Steelers win at Cincy
» 11-16-97: Bettis, 25-101 in 20-3 Steelers win at Pitt
» 10-11-98: Kordell Stewart, 7-103 in 25-20 Bengals win at Cincy
» 12-20-98: Bettis, 21-104 in 25-24 Bengals win at Pitt
» 10-17-99: Bettis, 26-111 in 17-3 Steelers win at Cincy
» 10-15-00: Bettis, 29-101 in 15-0 Steelers win at Pitt
» 10-7-01: Bettis, 23-153 in 16-7 Steelers win at Pitt
» 10-13-02: Bettis, 21-109 in 34-7 Steelers win at Cincy
» 10-3-04: Duce Staley, 25-123 in 28-17 Steelers win at Pitt
» 11-21-04: Bettis, 29-129 in 19-14 Steelers win at Cincy
» 10-23-05: Willie Parker 18-131 in 27-13 Steelers win at Cincy
» 9-24-06: Parker 31-133 in 28-20 Bengals win at Pitt
» 12-31-06: Parker 37-134 in 23-17 Steelers win at Cincy
» 10-28-07: Parker 22-126 in 24-13 Steelers win at Cincy
» 10-19-08: Mewelde Moore 20-120 in 38-13 Steelers win at Cincy