Misery may love company, but the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals share a loftier goal heading into Monday night's matchup in the Steel City. The long-time AFC North rivals have both stumbled out of the gate, with Pittsburgh hoping to avoid losing its first four games for the second time time since 1968 and Cincinnati trying to avert its first 0-4 start since 2008.
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"Both of our backs are against the wall, which is kind of sad at this point of the season," Steelers guard David DeCastro told reporters. "It will make for some good football, that's for sure. We both need a win very bad." Pittsburgh, which lost quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the season to an elbow injury in Week 2, has history on its side - the Steelers have won eight straight in the series (playoffs included) and are 25-5 at home on Monday night. The Bengals, who dropped both meetings in 2018 by a total of 10 points, never have lost nine in a row to any opponent as they look to end a seven-game slide on the road. "It just takes that first one to get it rolling," Cincinnati first-year coach Zac Taylor told reporters. "We're hungry for that one and we desperately want it right now. The important thing is we don't deviate, and we stay the course, and we know where we're headed."
TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Steelers -3.5. O/U: 45
ABOUT THE BENGALS (0-3): Cincinnati also is dealing with a major injury after perennial Pro Bowl wideout A.J. Green underwent ankle surgery during training camp, but quarterback Andy Dalton entered Week 4 ranked second in the league with 979 passing yards. Tyler Boyd leads the team with 24 receptions for 250 yards while former first-round pick John Ross has provided an unexpected boost, averaging 22.5 yards per catch and scoring three touchdowns. The ground game has been a disaster with Joe Mixon rushing for only 87 yards through three games after churning out 1,168 in 2018, including 105 in the regular-season finale at Pittsburgh. Cincinnati's defense has been gashed for 168.7 rushing yards per game.
ABOUT THE STEELERS (0-3): Making his first career start, Mason Rudolph was in line for the victory after throwing for 174 yards and a pair of second-half touchdowns before San Francisco prevailed 24-20 on a late TD. Much like the Bengals, Pittsburgh has been unable to get untracked on the ground as James Conner, who ran for 12 scores and nearly 1,000 yards last season, has been held to 97 yards overall while averaging 2.9 per carry. JuJu Smith-Schuster is averaging 81 yards on 14 receptions, but the Steelers hope either James Washington or Diontae Johnson will become a reliable second option. Pittsburgh needs to tighten up its pass defense, as it is allowing an average of 302.7 yards to rank 30th in the league.
1. Dalton has thrown at least two touchdown passes in three straight contests versus Pittsburgh.
2. Conner rushed for two TDs and recorded 223 yards from scrimmage in both meetings versus the Bengals in 2018.
3. Boyd had seven receptions and a pair of TDs in his last game at Heinz Field.
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News Breaking News
Key Players to Watch
- ConcussionQues Week 5 | questionable
Johnson left the last game and has been placed in the concussion protocol. His status for Week 5 against the Eagles is in question.
- HamstringOut indefinitely | out
Watt sustained a Grade 2 hamstring pull and will miss an undetermined length of time.
- FootDoub Week 5 | doubtful
Allen has plantar fascitis in his foot and is unlikely to play against the Eagles in Week 5.
- KneeProb Sun | probable
DeCastro has sat out the previous two games with a knee injury, but it is likely that he will play against the Texans on Sunday.
- ShoulderProb Sun | probable
Dupree has a shoulder injury, but it is anticipated that he will play Sunday versus the Texans.
- KneeProb Sun | probable
Alualu is tending to a knee injury, but he is expected to face the Texans on Sunday.
- ToeProb Sun | probable
Johnson is managing a toe injury, but it is likely that he will line up against the Texans on Sunday.
- KneeProb Sun | probable
Smith-Schuster is bothered by a knee injury, but it is projected that he will take the field Sunday versus the Texans.
- HamstringOut indefinitely | I-R
Calitro will be on the injured reserve for an extended period due to a hamstring injury.
- ShoulderQues Sun | questionable
Atkins has sat out the past three games due to a shoulder injury, and it is unclear if he will make his season debut Sunday versus the Jaguars.
- RibsQues Sun | questionable
Alexander is bothered by a rib injury, and it is unknown if he will be available for Sunday's clash with the Jaguars.
- ConcussionQues Sun | questionable
Wilson is experiencing concussion-like symptoms, and it is undetermined if he will be active against the Jaguars on Sunday.
- GroinDoub Sun | doubtful
Daniels was held out of the previous game with a groin injury, and it is unlikely that he will suit up Sunday versus the Eagles.
- PersonalProb Sun | probable
Sims has been absent from the lineup during the last two games due to a personal matter, but he is likely to take the field against the Eagles on Sunday.
- CalfQues Sun | questionable
Williams has missed the last two games with a calf injury, and it is unclear if he will be available Sunday against the Eagles.
- AchillesI-R | I-R
Uzomah has hit the injured reserve list a torn right Achilles.