If, as expected, the Bengals are forced to go with backup quarterback AJ McCarron on Saturday, it will be a familiar feeling for the Steelers’ defense: Playing backup quarterbacks has become the norm for Pittsburgh.
In fact, assuming Andy Dalton can’t go, Saturday’s game would be the sixth straight game in which the Steelers faced a backup on the other team.
On Sunday, the Steelers closed the regular season against Browns third-string quarterback Austin Davis. A week earlier the Steelers got the Ravens’ fourth quarterback, Ryan Mallett. The week before that, the Steelers got Broncos backup Brock Osweiler. The week before that, the Steelers got the Bengals and McCarron. The week before that, the Steelers got Colts backup Matt Hasselbeck.
The Steelers also faced Browns backup Johnny Manziel in Week 10, which means that counting McCarron on Saturday, Pittsburgh will have faced a backup in seven of its last eight games. Overall, the Steelers were 5-1 against backup quarterbacks this year and 5-5 against starters. They owe part of their position in the playoffs to bad luck befalling opposing teams’ quarterbacks.