The Steelers offense is known for their strong running game and that is one thing they have to get back on track this week against the Bengals.
Against Jacksonville on Monday night the Steelers managed only 26 yards rushing on 14 carries. Willie Parker had 11 carries for 20 yards.
"That's who we are," said wide receiver Hines Ward. "That's our identity. That's what it's been every year since I've been here. Everything's predicated off the run. We run first, we do everything second. If we can't do that, you kind of lose your identity."
The Steelers are currently tied for 22nd in rushing in the NFL, a ranking that doesn't please the offense, but a ranking they know they can improve on.
"We ran only 14 times," said guard Alan Faneca. "If it was 40 times for 26 yards, I'd be a lot more concerned than I am now. But it's definitely something we have to straighten out.
"They (Jacksonville) brought the blitz more than they had shown. You clog up a couple holes here and there, and all of a sudden you're bending the play out to another defender. They were doing that, and there were some we missed, some we could have blocked better, and some we could have run better. It was all of us, I think, in the run game."
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The Steelers-Bengals rivalry has always been competitive, but this is the most competitive since Bill Cowher has been the Steelers head coach.
"I don't think there's any question, since I've been here," said Cowher. "This is a football team that's playing with a lot of confidence and deservedly so. They're playing at a high level, and certainly right now they're the defending divisional champs. I think when you get teams that play at high levels, it creates a rivalry within the division. There's no question that this is the best football team we've played from Cincinnati."
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Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, who was roommates with Steelers safety Troy Polamalu at USC, had plenty of praise for his friend this week.
"In my eyes he's the best defensive player in the game," said Palmer. "He's more than just the best safety. He's the best defensive football player. He consistently makes plays. He leads that defense by example. He's a lot of fun to watch and not a lot of fun to play against."