Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin wasn't overly revealing as far as his game plan for Monday's Week 2 showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals, but he was transparent enough to see he has growing respect for Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.
This is the same Dalton who, in four career starts against the Steelers, has thrown five interceptions with a 52 percent completion rate.
"He’s no longer considered a young guy," Tomlin told the team's web site. "You can no longer get him with thinly-layered defensive schemes, you’ve got to spin the dial and be thoughtfully non-rhythmic. He’s just one of those guys who’s a franchise-like quarterback. We have a lot of respect for him."
Dalton was 38-for-69 against the Steelers last year with one touchdown and three interceptions. He was 14-for-28 the first time these teams played (a 24-17 Steelers win), his worst offensive performance of the season.
That game didn't start off well. Down 7-3 and having just thrown an interception in the Bengals' end zone, they forced a three-and-out only to fumble the next possession away. Dalton hit wide receiver A.J. Green for a Bengals' touchdown.
Ahead 14-3 in the second quarter, the remaining eight drives went as follows: Interception, end of half, field goal, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt. The Steelers destroyed Dalton and the Bengals in the same primetime environment they'll be playing Monday. The key, as Tomlin alluded to, is getting Dalton confused and keeping the pressure on him.
The Steelers got good pressure in Week 1 against Tennessee, but with a game plan clearly designed to run the ball (42 attempts for the Titans), there wasn't much opportunity. Cincinnati can and will throw more often. If the Steelers can get to Dalton and force him into the kinds of mistakes he makes against the Steelers, Pittsburgh can compete in this game.
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