In a way, Sunday's game is a reflection. The Pittsburgh Steelers arrive in Cincinnati with an older defense while the Cincinnati Bengals have the piss and vinegar that's expected to spearhead Cincinnati's postseason opportunities this year. In three of the past four years, Mike Zimmer's defense has ranked inside the top seven and the team posted a franchise-best 51 quarterback sacks in 2012.
And they did it with the defensive front that were richly rewarded this offseason. Including Michael Johnson's franchise tag of $11.175 million, the defensive line accounts for nearly 30 percent of the team's payroll with nearly $125 million of new money going to the front four.
But those old guys in Pittsburgh are unimpressed, writes Ed Bouchette with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"Nah, I don't believe the hype," said Ziggy Hood. "I know what our defense can do out there on the field. We'll find out come Monday night."
Added fellow defensive end Cameron Heyward: "Let them say what they want, they'll find out on Monday."
The last time the Bengals defense played the Steelers, Cincinnati sacked quarterback Ben Roethlisberger four times, posted two interceptions, and limited the Steelers rushing offense to a 3.1 yard/rush average. Pittsburgh was pretty good in their own right, sacking Andy Dalton six times and limiting BenJarvus Green-Ellis to only a 0.9 yard/rush average.
Though the Bengals offense figures to be slightly ahead of Pittsburgh's injured offensive line and running back position, we've learned long ago not to count out the Steelers where the Bengals are concerned. Or maybe that's just old school thinking.