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Air & Ground matchup of Week 17
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC) -- The Steelers' offense -- thanks to the 2014 version of "The Triplets", quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Le'Veon Bell and receiver Antonio Brown -- has set franchise records for points per game (27.3), yards per game (415.4) and passing yards per game (300.5). Containing this offensive juggernaut is the monumental task that awaits the Bengals in a showdown that will decide the AFC North division winner.
Roethlisberger and Bell have been regular nominees in the FedEx Air & Ground Players of the Week voting, and the duo made it a Steelers sweep in Week 14. Bell has already set a Steelers record for most yards from scrimmage in a season with 2,115 yards (topping Barry Foster's mark of 2,034 yards from 1992). Brown needs just two receptions to have the second-most catches in a single season in NFL history; Brown currently has 122 catches, and the single-season record of 143 catches was set by the Indianapolis Colts' Marvin Harrison in 2002.
Bengals rookie running back Jeremy Hill has been a revelation, rushing for 1,024 yards and nine touchdowns this season. In a 37-28 win over the Denver Broncos on "Monday Night Football", Hill rushed for 147 yards. It was his fourth game this season with 140 or more rushing yards, making him just the third rookie in NFL history to rush for 140 yards in four different games (Eric Dickerson -- five times -- and Curtis Martin are the others).
One shot at making history
The Bengals are looking to win consecutive division titles for the first time in team history. Cincinnati has won eight division titles, but never in consecutive seasons.
Great Moments in Air & Ground History
Steelers 49, Bengals 31 (Week 12 of 1995 season) -- En route to a first-place finish in the old AFC Central, the Steelers prevailed in a shootout over the Bengals at Riverfront Stadium after scoring 21 fourth-quarter points to pull ahead. Steelers quarterback Neil O'Donnell had a big day, throwing for 377 yards and three touchdowns, running back Bam Morris rushed for 101 yards and three touchdowns, and Kordell Stewart (then of "Slash" fame) had one rush for 15 yards and two receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown. Bengals quarterback Jeff Blake -- as he was wont to do in that era -- was valiant in defeat, throwing three touchdown passes. The Steelers went on to reach Super Bowl XXX, but were defeated by the Dallas Cowboys, 27-17, in large part due to O'Donnell making a hero of little-known Cowboys defensive back Larry Brown.
Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.