Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick knows what it’s like to think that victory is only a few seconds away T.J. Hockenson Jersey , only to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers rally for another improbable win, and run off the field as thousands of their fans twirl towels in the stands.Many of Kirkpatrick’s teammates haven’t been on the sideline for those blow-to-the-gut finishes, which might work to the Bengals‘ advantage on Sunday as they revisit a rivalry that’s more of a horror story for Cincinnati. in coach Marvin Lewis’ 16 seasons as they get ready to host the Steelers (2-2-1). Nineteen of them are in their first or second season — virtual newcomers to the one-sided series.“It’s kind of good that some of these guys haven’t experienced it because we’re trying to go in with clear minds, clear everything,” Kirkpatrick said. “Just going out there and playing our game and not (remembering) nothing that happened two or three years ago, or last year.”The Steelers know their history.Pittsburgh has won six straight in the series , including an 18-16 victory in the first round of the 2015 playoffs that included an historic meltdown by the Bengals. The Steelers have won nine of 10 and 14 of 17 against their AFC North rival, getting the better of games that have often turned nasty.“Yeah, you get amped up there,” Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree said. “It’s their house. They’re trying to be so tough.”Some of the main figures in the most memorable games are gone. Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is back after sitting out the first four games on his latest NFL suspension, but cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones left after last season. Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is holding out.“Many of the significant contributors don’t play for us (anymore), they don’t play for them,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.Some things to watch Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium:LOPSIDED HISTORYThe Steelers are 24-8 against the Bengals since they hired Marvin Lewis as coach in 2003. They’re 15-2 at Paul Brown Stadium during that span, including playoff wins in the 2005 and 2015 seasons. During their current six-game winning streak against Cincinnati, the Steelers have overcome deficits of 17-3 and 17-0. They have two last-minute wins.SHAZIER BACKSteelers linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered a spinal injury at Paul Brown Stadium last Dec. 4 when he lowered his helmet and tackled receiver Josh Malone. Shazier was taken to a local hospital. Ten months later, he’s still recovering and it’s unclear whether he can ever play again. Shazier is on the sideline during games and is expected to be in Cincinnati with his teammates on Sunday.BIG-PLAY BENGALSPittsburgh is known for its tenacious defense Jahlani Tavai Jersey , but the Bengals have made some of the biggest plays this season. They’ve returned three turnovers for touchdowns, including an interception and a fumble in the fourth quarter of a 27-17 win over Miami on Sunday. The Bengals’ rotation on the line has kept them fresh for the endings of games.“Guys were really, really getting after it, and it was fun to watch,” coordinator Teryl Austin said. “It makes the game easy to call when you know the guys are going to push the pocket back and get after the quarterback and harass the quarterback.”ALIVE AND KICKINGA year after making the Pro Bowl for the first time, Steelers kicker Chris Boswell is struggling. He missed his third extra point of the season last week against Atlanta, matching his career high. It hasn’t been any easier for Boswell when it comes to field goals, where he is just 3 for 6. Still, Tomlin remains confident in Boswell, who signed a five-year contract before the season.Boswell has never missed a kick against the Bengals, making all 11 extra-point tries and all 20 field goal attempts, including a pair of last-minute winners at Paul Brown Stadium.“This guy has delivered for us a lot in the last few years, and I do not have amnesia in that regard,” Tomlin said. “He’s gotten me out of that stadium in Cincinnati a few times, and so I look forward to taking him to Cincinnati.”CAMPAIGNING FOR CONNERIt could be Pittsburgh’s final game without Bell, who reportedly will end his standoff and sign a one-year franchise tag next week. Bell’s return could create an issue on how to split carries. James Conner has been solid while filling in. The second-year back is coming off a 185-yard from scrimmage Will Harris Jersey , two-touchdown performance against Atlanta. Ben Roethlisberger believes Conner has done little to earn a demotion.“I think James has done some amazing things and deserves to be on the football field,” Roethlisberger said. “We also know what Le’Veon is and what he brings to the table, so I guess we’ll cross that bridge if and when it happens.”___AP Sports Writer Will Graves contributed to this report.___
HOUSTON – Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier made his impact felt defensively in his return from the disabled list on Tuesday. There will be changes in playing time moving forward as well.
With Kiermaier, who missed 57 games with a torn ligament in his right thumb, back in the fold, Mallex Smith shifted to left field while Johnny Field claimed a reserve role. While Smith appears a likely bet to maintain regular at-bats, Field could see a decline in his. Field could potentially share time in right field with veteran Carlos Gomez, whose defense played a part in the Rays’ 2-1 victory Tuesday that ended Houston’s 12-game winning streak and set the stage for the rubber match of this three-game series on Wednesday night.
“Mallex is going to play a lot,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He’s done a good job; I think he’s deserving to play. He’s probably back in the spot that benefits us the most in left or right when he goes over there at certain times. I like that he can rove to all three of (the outfield slots) and back up K.K. in center. But now it’s like the infield thing: I’m just going to have to do a good job of making sure that everybody gets some consistency and also rest at the same time.
“I don’t think it’s going to hurt Carlos Gomez to get an extra day here and there. Same with Johnny. You see with really good teams that have a full roster the ability to rest their so-called regulars. So, we’ll take that approach.”
The Rays designated outfielder Rob Refsnyder for assignment to make room for Kiermaier.
Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (1-2, 4.63 ERA) will start the series finale for the Rays (34-39). He is 1-0 with a 2.52 ERA over four career starts against Houston but hasn’t faced them since April 7, 2016, while pitching for the Yankees.
Eovaldi has faced the Astros once in Houston, earning a 3-2 win on June 26, 2015, after allowing two runs on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts over six innings.
Wednesday will mark his fifth start since returning from a second Tommy John surgery.
The Astros (49-26) will counter with right-hander Charlie Morton (8-1 Austin Bryant Jersey , 2.94 ERA), who is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA over three career starts against the Rays. Morton went 1-1 with a 5.73 ERA in two starts against the Rays last season, allowing seven runs on 10 hits and five walks over 11 innings.
He picked up the win in his last start, the 200th of his career, limiting the Royals to three runs on four hits and four walks with nine strikeouts over six innings in a 7-3 victory on June 15.
Major League Baseball released the second update of the American League All-Star voting results on Tuesday, and Astros second baseman Jose Altuve leads all players in fan balloting with 1,572,101 votes. Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts is just behind Altuve at 1,568,417.
“I think it’s remarkable, and I think it’s well deserved for someone who represents our game in exceptional fashion,” said Astros manager A.J. Hinch, who will manage the AL All-Stars in Washington, D.C., next month. “I think the voters are getting it right. He’s every bit what’s right about baseball. I love the guy and I’m happy that he’s getting the recognition that he should.”