The Bengals head into Sunday's playoff game for the playoffs (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) in Pittsburgh with a better handle on the big play.
It was the big play that led to their demise back in the Oct. 21 loss to the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium. Four Pittsburgh receivers had at least a 23-yard catch with a long of 31 yards by wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, and running back Jonathan Dwyer's 32-yard run killed the clock in the 24-17 loss.
Since then, the Bengals have allowed one pass longer than 31 yards, a 46-yarder last week to Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. And the only run longer than 20 yards since then is Giants backup Andre Brown's 29-yarder with four minutes left in Cincinnati's 31-13 win on Nov. 11. In the last three games, the longest run by a back has been eight yards.
The Bengals have allowed just five runs of 20 or more yards, tied for second fewest in the NFL with New England and Denver. First? The Steelers with four.
CORNERS BACK: Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor, who has shut down Bengals Pro Bowl wide receivers Chad Johnson and A.J. Green down through the years, won't play Sunday. But cornerback Kendall Lewis, who left last Sunday's loss to Cowboys when he aggravated a hip injury, and corner Cortez Allen, who didn't play in Dallas with a hip flexor, are expected to start against the Bengals. Taylor has a hairline fracture of his right ankle and has removed the protective boot from his foot, but may only play again if the Steelers make the playoffs.
Lewis, a fourth-year player who was a third-rounder in 2009, figures to get the call on Green. According to profootballfocus.com, he leads the NFL with 15 passes defensed.
Also at his Tuesday news conference, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said rookie right tackle Mike Adams has been cleared to practice and he'll be monitored to see if he can play against the Bengals after missing the last three games with a high ankle sprain. Sanders, who did not return after injuring his rib against the Cowboys, is also going be watched in practice.