The Steelers have indeed felt right at home at Paul Brown Stadium since its opening in the year 2000. Pittsburgh is 12-3 at Paul Brown during that span, including a 6-2 mark this decade. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 9-2 at Paul Brown that included wins in his first six starts in the Queen City.
Big Ben has enjoyed many memorable moments during his career in Cincinnati. A very memorable playoff win occurred at Paul Brown, a 31-17 victory that spring-boarded Pittsburgh's run to Super Bowl XL. A year later, Roethlisberger threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes in overtime that ended the Bengals season one game shy of the playoffs. Pittsburgh dominated both games in Cincinnati over the next two seasons, outscoring the host Bengals by a total tally of 62-23.
Following a last-minute loss in Cincinnati, Big Ben's first professional defeat in the state of Ohio, the Steelers won the next two meetings in Cincinnati before the Bengals upended the visiting Steelers last year, 20-10, in Week 2.The Steelers exacted revenge with a 30-20 win against the visiting Bengals in Week 15.
The Steelers hope that winning trend in Cincinnati continues this Sunday. Pittsburgh is 3-3 away from Heinz Field thus far, while the Bengals are 4-1-1 this season at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals were 8-0 at home during the regular season last year before dropping their Wild Card game to the visiting Chargers, 27-10.The loss to the Chargers was the Bengals third home playoff game and defeat at Paul Brown Stadium, reinforcing the Bengals' reputation as a team that can't win when it really matters.
A question to be asked is why the Steelers have been so successful in Cincinnati. A large Steelers contingent in the crowd doesn't hurt and, quite frankly, the Steelers have normally been the stronger team in those matchups. My thinking is that Bengals games in Cincinnati have traditionally brought out the best in the Steelers. It's a chance to reinforce their dominance, while shutting up the Bengals former loud mouths (T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson, to name a few).
Pittsburgh also has used this game to prove their superior physicality against their neighbor-state rivals. Jerome Bettis loved plowing through Cincinnati's defense in front of their home fans, while some of the Steelers' finest defensive games this century have occurred in the Queen City (see the 2008 regular-season game). Let's hope all of these elements are again in play on Sunday. If so, the Steelers will still be in contention for the AFC North title, while the Bengals will again be feeling the heat from their hometown fans.