Anytime the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals get together there are essentially two constants. One, the Steelers will win. The Steelers have won five straight against the Bengals and that includes eight of the last nine, and four straight at Paul Brown stadium. When they face little brother, they beat little brother. The other constant is that A.J. Green is likely to have a big game.
Will Pittsburgh Steelers shadow A.J. Green?
In eight of his 13 games against the Steelers, Green has caught at least five passes, three times going over 10 receptions. He has gone over 100 yards four times, including a 224-yard performance, and he has seven touchdowns in those 13 games. Do not get it wrong, the Steelers have had their moments with Green. However, those moments have come sparingly.
Most of the Steelers success with Green has been from following him around with a specific cornerback and shifting coverages. Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen, and Ross Cockrell all have notable strong performances following Green around.
However, earlier in the season, the Steelers elected to play sides. With first-round pick Artie Burns and new signee Joe Haden, the team felt confident no matter where Green lined up. The plan worked, as Green was held to 41 yards on three receptions.
However, since then, things have changed in the Steelers secondary. Haden is going to miss the game with a fractured fibula. On top of that, Burns has fallen off a cliff since the loss of Haden, playing some of his worst football lately. Burns has been burnt for a touchdown in each of the past three games. Most big plays have been him falling for a double move. A technician such as Green should have his way with Burns.
It would be tough for the Steelers to trust Burns on one of the best wide receivers in the NFL on Monday night. However, on the other side, it is not like Coty Sensabaugh has stepped into Haden’s spot and has been shut down. Two touchdowns in the past two weeks have come on his side. He has had moments, but also has not seen the talent close to a player like A.J. Green yet this season.
It feels as though the Steelers will have to run the same gameplan as earlier in the season for almost completely different reasons. Earlier in the season, it was the confidence in either cornerback on Green. This week, it is the lack of confidence in either cornerback to shut down Green alone that should have them to stick to their sides for another week. If the Steelers were to play this smart, you should expect to see the two cornerbacks stick to their sides against the Bengals this week.