The Bengals found a way to win Sunday after the Steelers went two yards too far on the final play of the football game at Heinz Field.
That's how close it was in the clash at Pittsburgh, which came down to the last snap on a nine-play, 64-yard drive from the Bengals' 16 yard line with 4 seconds left. But Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, on his final pass, overthrew wide receiver Antonio Brown, who caught the potential game-winning touchdown toss just outside the back of the end zone, securing a 16-10 road win for the Bengals.
It went into the books as an incomplete pass for Pittsburgh, which finds itself in a bind while once again missing a key component of the offense. Not only did the Bengals take out the Steelers on Sunday, they took out their running back during a physical game, that welcomed back two Pro Bowlers, one for each side.
Cincinnati stayed unbeaten at 7-0 while extending its lead in the AFC North Division to a whopping three and one-half games over the second-place Steelers (4-4), who fell four games behind Cincinnati in the loss column.
"It's big any time you can get a win. It means so much especially in a division game," said Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who overcame a tough day to throw a go-ahead fourth-quarter touchdown pass to receiver A.J. Green. "I feel like the defense was playing unbelievable today, and I felt like, eventually, we would go down there and get a touchdown."
Dalton found Green in the end zone with a nine-yard TD pass with 2:57 to go, helping give Cincinnati a 13-10 lead. The Bengals picked off Roethlisberger twice in the fourth quarter while rallying to stay unbeaten and in command of the division.
"This is a big win against a division opponent," said Dalton, who finished 23-of-38 passing for 231 yards with the TD to Green, plus two interceptions. He was sacked three times. "We got another big one this Thursday (at home against Cleveland) on a short week."
On Sunday, the defending AFC North champion Steelers hoped that Roethlisberger's return after missing four games with a sprained knee would give them a lift. Leading most of the contest, they fell apart in the closing minutes, after losing running back Le'Veon Bell to an injured knee in the second quarter. Bell finished with 45 yards on 10 carries.
Green's TD was set up by Shawn Williams' diving sideline interception at the Pittsburgh 45-yard line that fired up the Bengals' side. It was the turning point in the game.
Reggie Nelson's second interception Sunday set up Mike Nugent's 44-yard field goal with 1:47 to go that set the final score. It was Nugent's third field goal of the game. He scored as many points (10) as the Steelers.
Bell, taken to the locker room on a cart, is out indefinitely as Pittsburgh braces for a multiple-week absence by their highly productive multi-purpose back. He never fully got on track Sunday. He was hurt on a sideline pass play during which he was tackled by Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
Burfict was making his return to the field for the first time in a little more than a year following offseason knee surgery. He finished with five tackles, tying for second-most on the team. Linebacker Vincent Rey led the Bengals with eight tackles. Linemen Geno Atkins, Wallace Gilberry and Michael Johnson had one sack each, but end Carlos Dunlap went sackless and appeared to suffer an injury when he went down on a play after the break.
The Bengals trailed 10-6 for much of the second half but scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pull it out.
Green showed up big in a big game, something Bengals fans are looking for from the team's stars. Green caught a season-high 11 passes and led all receivers with 118 yards, offsetting a disappointing performance overall by the previously unstoppable Dalton.
Tight end Tyler Eifert caught four passes for 39 yards. Running back Jeremy Hill rushed 15 times for 60 yards for the Bengals in a promising performance coming off a bye. Giovani Bernard was curiously unprodutive. He received one carry for 12 yards in his least productive day of the season running the football, while catching two passes for 22 yards.
Roethlisberger finished 28-of-45 passing for 262 yards, with a first-quarter touchdown to Brown, plus three interceptions in his first action since Week 3.
The Steelers won the time-of-possesion edge. They also had more first downs and outgained the Bengals in total yards, 356-296, but lost where it counted, on the scoreboard. The Bengals won the turnover battle. They turned it over twice. The Steelers had three turnovers.
Up next for the Bengals: The Cleveland Browns on Thursday with an 8:25 p.m. start at Paul Brown Stadium. The Browns (2-6) lost 34-20 at home to the Carson Palmer-led Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.