Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk wants to know who on the Steelers' defense will get the big stop the team will need in the cold weather to win this game. Temps drop, the game changes. Can the Steelers get a stop, and what individual would make it?
Let's rule out the entire secondary now. Based on its performance in Week 13, none of them can be counted on in such a situation. Of the linebackers, one might really hope Jason Worilds and his $10 million reasons to make a play can come through. Perhaps James Harrison can continue to roll back the clock and come up with something. Most likely, among the linebackers, it'd be Lawrence Timmons, the best mix of athleticism and experience on the Steelers' defense.
And against a run-dominant team like the Bengals, Timmons is going to need to be a key part of the defensive game plan. This isn't a team with a high-level quarterback. The Bengals will need to control the clock and run the ball successfully if they want to rid themselves of the Steelers from their divisional rear view mirror.
The return of nose tackle Steve McLendon would be key as well. He's another player who can make an impact in this game. Whether he plays still remains to be seen, but given the absence of defensive end Brett Keisel, and the relative softness coming from either Stephon Tuitt or Cam Thomas, McLendon will have to handle the interior at a high level.