The long, lanky wide receiving wunderkind A.J. Green is one of the most feared players in the NFL. He's been elected to the Pro Bowl in each of his four professional season, including 2014, and the last time he saw the Steelers, he had a career high 11 receptions to go along with his 224 yards and touchdown. The touchdown, an 81-yard score, showed Green's long strides and perfect route running abilities on display as he utterly torched the Steelers secondary.
Despite this, Mike Mitchell is excited to get another shot at Green and company, according to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
"I am really looking forward to it," Mitchell said. "You learn from your mistakes, and that's what is awesome about divisional games compared to nondivisional games. You only get one shot at those guys, so if they do something on you, then you might have to wait one or two years to play them again."
The Steelers, fortunately, came out of that game with a 42-21 victory, but Green's ability to completely toast the Steelers secondary looms large. With a Week 17 matchup to determine the AFC North champion happening this Sunday, Pittsburgh will look to limit Green's effectiveness.
Steelers roll Bengals, here are seven key plays from the 42-21 win.
Even with a convincing victory over the Broncos on Monday, the Bengals still exposed some of their own weaknesses. The Bengals were able to rush their way to a big win, as rookie Jeremy Hill collected 147 yards on 22 rushes. But, 85 of those yards came on one run, meaning if that run was excluded, Hill only rushed for 62 yards on 21 carries, a less than three yards per carry average. Gio Bernard was even worse, with eight rushes for 38 yards, 23 of which occurred on one run. Andy Dalton, as usual, looked pedestrian at best, completing 17 of 26 passes for 146 yards.
What the Begnals lacked against Denver, however, was a healthy A.J. Green. With Green on the sidelines for most of the game with an injured shoulder, the Bengals passing attack was almost nonexistent. Jermaine Gresham led Cincinnati with 62 receiving yards and even Dane Sanzenbacher managed a reception. In fact, the Bengals wide receiving corps was responsible for only three catches and 39 yards. With four interceptions, the Bengals defense was mostly responsible for their upset over the Broncos.
When the Bengals and Steelers met on Dec. 7, Green, in addition to his huge game, drew 15 targets, meaning Dalton targeted him on over half his throws. If Green is limited in any way or the Steelers find a way to stop him, it seems as if the Bengals go as A.J. Green goes.
The Bengals certainly secured a big win against Broncos, but the Denver offensive line was a mess, they couldn't get their running game going and Peyton Manning looked awful. The Steelers offensive line has an argument as one of the top units in the league, Le'Veon Bell is a Pro Bowler and rushed for 185 yards the last time the Bengals and Steelers met and Ben Roethlisberger is the second leading passer in the league, dismantling the Cincinnati secondary back in early December.
Perhaps seeing just how valuable Green is has intrigued Mitchell. Regardless, it seems as if Mitchell and the rest of the Steelers secondary are eager for another shot at the Bengals passing attack and they are confident in their ability to stop it.