The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Sports

November 15, 2009

Despite loss, defense held Bengals in check

PITTSBURGH — The last time the Steelers lost to a team that had fewer than 14 first downs, 218 total yards and didn’t score an offensive touchdown was in Oakland during the 2006 season when the Steelers used a quarterback fresh off a concussion.

The previous loss against such a woeful offense was against Houston in 2002, when the Steelers used a quarterback who’d been paralyzed in his previous game.

The Steelers’ defense posted the aforementioned numbers Sunday, and their quarterback was just fine. But somehow the Cincinnati Bengals left Heinz Field with an 18-12 win in a game for first place in the division.

“Maybe if we could’ve made some plays on the ball,” said free safety Ryan Clark. “I know I dropped a pick I should’ve had.”

Clark came closer to a turnover than any other Steelers defender. It occurred on a fourth-quarter pass from Carson Palmer that whistled past Chad Ochocinco, who wasn’t looking for the ball. Clark was, but he dropped it. The Bengals then kicked their third field goal a few minutes later to break a tie.

The Bengals’ fourth and final field goal, with 1:56 left, gave the visitors an insurmountable 18-12 lead and perhaps an insurmountable lead in the AFC North Division – all after the Steelers had held Palmer and Cedric Benson to season-low yardage totals. The Bengals’ third major offensive component, Ochocinco, bettered his season-low of 24 receiving yards by only 5 yards on Sunday.

It was a brilliant effort by a Steelers defense that came into the game hoping to hold one of the NFL’s most efficient red-zone teams to field goals instead of touchdowns. For the most part, the defense achieved its objective.

“Well,” said coordinator Dick LeBeau, “Our main objective is to win, and we did not get that done.”

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