The Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers have watched their seasons go in opposite directions after the Steelers won their Week 1 meeting.
The Bengals are out to avenge that loss and keep pace in the AFC North Division standings when they visit Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Joe Burrow was sacked seven times and threw four interceptions when the Bengals (5-4) fell to the Steelers 23-20 in overtime on Sept. 11. Pittsburgh managed to spoil host Cincinnati’s first game since reaching Super Bowl LVI the previous winter.
The Bengals went on to start 0-2 but have gone 5-2 since. They’re one game behind the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North race with seven games to go. The Bengals, who lost to the Ravens on Oct. 8, close the regular season by hosting Baltimore.
“That’s always the goal. That’s right there for us,” Burrow said. “We are a game out of first place. We have to go and get this one and then we will take it from there.”
In their most recent game before their Week 10 bye, the Bengals trounced the Carolina Panthers 42-21. Joe Mixon scored a career-high five touchdowns, rushing for a career-best four scores and a season-high 153 yards on 22 carries and catching four passes, including a 12-yard touchdown, for 58 yards.
“We ran the ball great two weeks ago now, but that’s just one game,” Burrow said. “So we got to build on that. The coaching staff is really excited about the plan, so am I and Joe’s looking to build on that momentum from that week.”
Burrow stands at 9,834 career passing yards through 35 regular-season games and can become the fourth-fastest in NFL history to reach 10,000 if he throws for at least 166 Sunday.
The Steelers (3-6) started Mitch Trubisky at quarterback in Week 1, but amid a four-game losing streak after that season opener they moved on to first-round selection Kenny Pickett. The rookie had one of his best performances of the season in last week’s 20-10 win over the New Orleans Saints by completing 18 of 30 passes for 199 yards and rushing for 51 yards and a touchdown.
So far Pickett is completing 66.7 percent of his passes but has just two touchdowns against eight interceptions. He said that red-zone offense is one particular area where he must improve.
“We’re not where we need to be,” Pickett said, per the team website. “Obviously, there’s less grass, so it’s tighter windows, the timing, everything is faster. I’ve got to meet the guys at certain spots with the ball and they’ve got to get there on time. The game changes when you get down there. The calls change. The system changes. There are definitely things we need to get better at.”
Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick returned to practice Thursday after having an appendectomy last Saturday. He was not given an injury designation on the Steelers’ report, meaning he is in line to play.
The only player Pittsburgh ruled out was cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring).
Cincinnati would like to have star receiver Ja’Marr Chase back soon from a hip injury, but he did not practice this week and was ruled out. Defensive tackle Josh Tupou (shoulder) and safety Daxton Hill (shoulder) will also miss the game.
Bengals running back Chris Evans (knee) and cornerback Tre Flowers (hamstring) were listed as questionable after being limited in practice all week.
–Field Level Media
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