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Bengals seek to avenge playoff loss to Steelers

Sep 19, 2006 - 9:54 PM Cincinnati (2-0) at Pittsburgh (1-1) Sunday 1:00 pm EDT

PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Carson Palmer and the Cincinnati Bengals remember the pain of losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild card round last January.

The AFC North Division rivals will meet for the first time this season on Sunday.

The joy of staging a playoff game for the first time in 15 years quickly turned into heartbreak for the Bengals when Palmer suffered torn left knee ligaments after being hit by end Kimo von Oelhoffen early in the first quarter.

Without their Pro Bowl quarterback, the Bengals were ill-equipped to engage in a shootout and lost to the Steelers, 31-17. That was the first of three straight playoff wins on the road for the Steelers en route to a Super Bowl title.

Ben Roethlisberger was nearly flawless for Pittsburgh, completing 14-of-19 passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns.

Palmer looked more than ready for his first playoff game, hitting Chris Henry with a 66-yard bomb down the right sideline on his first pass attempt. However, Palmer was hit in the left knee by von Oelhoffen on the play and crumpled to the ground. He was carted off the field and X-rays revealed he had a torn ACL and MCL.

Palmer was not expected to be ready for the start of the 2006 season, but made a remarkable recovery and directed the Bengals to wins in their first two games against Kansas City (23-10) and Cleveland (34-17). In last week's win over the Browns, Palmer threw for 352 yards, 30 shy of his career high.

The Steelers won two of three meetings from Cincinnati last season, but the loss came here at Heinz Field, 38-31, on December 4. Palmer passed for three touchdowns, including a pair to T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Roethlisberger threw for a career-high 386 yards and three touchdowns, but was intercepted three times. Hines Ward caught nine passes for 135 yards, including two touchdowns.

Pittsburgh's Willie Parker rushed for 240 yards on 49 carries in the three games against the Bengals last season. Rudi Johnson carried the ball 46 times and produced 219 yards against the Steelers.

Johnson has rushed for 241 yards and three touchdowns in Cincinnati's first two games this season.

The Steelers had to abandon their running game after Parker gained just 20 yards on 11 carries in a 9-0 loss at Jacksonville on Monday night. It marked the first time the Steelers had been shut out since December 14, 2003 against the New York Jets.

Just 15 days after undergoing an emergency appendectomy, Roethlisberger threw for just 141 yards and was intercepted twice.

Cincinnati's Chad Johnson suffered a mild concussion and needed stitches on his chin after being hit by Brian Russell while attempting to catch a pass in last week's win over Cleveland. He is expected to play Sunday.

But the Bengals will be without two starting linebackers - David Pollack and Odell Thurman. Pollack suffered a broken neck last week and is out for the season and Thurman continues to serve a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

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