CINCINNATI (AP) -T.J. Houshmandzadeh did a double-take when asked Wednesday if he expects better field conditions at Heinz Field this weekend.
``I would hope it's not the same,'' the Cincinnati Bengals receiver said emphatically. ``If it's the same, it's terrible. I can't imagine the field being the same way as it was Monday.''
The footing was about as bad as it gets during the Pittsburgh Steelers' 3-0 victory over Miami on Monday night, when heavy rain turned a new field of sod into a witches' brew of divots and muck.
Many of the Bengals (4-7) watched on television, knowing that they're headed for Pittsburgh and that same field on Sunday night. The sight of players slipping and sliding around made them wince.
the days when you were a kid running around playing in the mud.''
The Steelers (8-3) beat Miami on Jeff Reed's 24-yard field goal with 17 seconds left, then called the conditions horrendous. New sod was laid atop the old less than 24 hours before the kickoff, and a downpour turned it into a 100-yard expanse of swampland.
``That's the way football was played a long time ago,'' Bengals kicker Shayne Graham said.
The Bengals have history of their own with horrible fields.
They couldn't keep the grass from coming apart when Paul Brown Stadium opened in 2000. The field came up in clumps, leaving players sliding around in the sandy base. In 2002, San Diego's Rodney Harrison called it the ``worst field I've ever played on in my life.''
The Bengals gave up after four years of trying different types of grass, finally installing artificial turf. They still practice on grass fields adjacent to the stadium, ones that have some of the same problems.
For once, it might be useful.
``The field that we practice on every day is as slippery,'' quarterback Carson Palmer said. ``The turf comes up just as bad on our grass field as it does anywhere I've ever played, so we're used to it.''
Left tackle Levi Jones agreed that what he saw on television Monday night was comparable to what he sees in Cincinnati every day.
``We get that look every day out here on our practice field,'' Jones said. ``Some days it can be (just as bad). And we all remember how this stadium used to be before it went to FieldTurf.''
Given their troubles with grass field, the Bengals aren't in position to complain about anyone else's woes. Coach Marvin Lewis tried to cut off discussion of the subject on Wednesday, hoping it doesn't become a distraction to his players.
``Guys just have to be conscious of it,'' Lewis said. ``We spoke about it. I don't want it to be the overriding factor. Both teams are going to play on the same 100 yards, and we just have to respond to that and go.''
The Bengals need a victory to preserve their slim chance of a winning record. A loss would guarantee their 16th season without a winning record since 1991. They've gone 8-8 three times in Lewis' four previous seasons running the team.
Cincinnati finally emerged from its offensive rut last Sunday with a 35-6 victory over Tennessee. Chad Johnson caught three touchdown passes from Palmer, the first time the Pro Bowl receiver had reached the end zone since the second week of the season.
If the field is bad in Pittsburgh, more of the load will fall on Rudi Johnson and the running game.
``He'll probably love the conditions,'' Steelers linebacker James Farrior said in a conference call, after estimating he slipped and fell 20 times on Monday night. ``They won't be able to pass as much as they do.''
Not what the Bengals prefer.
``Chad probably won't like that,'' Farrior said, chuckling.

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