Despite not picking up a first down until six possession of the game the Bengals trailed just 10-7 at halftime and 17-10 heading into the fourth quarter. They had the ball at the Pittsburgh 37 with a first-and-10 with 12 minutes left to play but that was as good as it was going to get for the Bengals.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, starting for the injured Carson Palmer, threw an incomplete pass, running back Cedric Benson was stopped for no gain and then Fitzpatrick was sacked for a 6-yard loss to force a punt.
"I'm angry. It's not good. It's not what professional football is all about," said head coach Marvin Lewis. "Every week you have guys get injured, (and other) guys have to come in and play. You've got to respond to that. You've got to understand what your responsibility is, what's going to happen, how they are going to attack, and how we attack."
The Steelers outgained the Bengals 375-212 as Cincinnati's offensive struggles continue. Fitzpatrick played better in his third start replacing Palmer, who is out indefinitely with inflammation in his right (throwing) elbow, but it didn't stop the Bengals from going without a first down on seven of their 12 possessions.
Fitzpatrick completed 21 of 35 passes for 164 yards and one touchdown but he was sacked seven times for 47 yards in losses. The Bengals set a franchise record by giving up just 17 sacks all of last season but their quarterbacks have already been sacked 26 times in seven games this season.
"It's hard with that number of sacks (seven) to say I felt comfortable dropping back," said Fitzpatrick. "There were a number of times when I felt very comfortable back there. There were times when I felt too comfortable back there. Because of that, maybe I felt too comfortable and didn't step up as much as I needed to. At the end, they pinned their ears back at the edges. Seven sacks you can't have. The blame falls on everybody."
Fitzpatrick's touchdown was a 5-yard throw to Chad Ocho Cinco with 38 seconds left before halftime, a play that capped off a 14-play, 92-yard drive.
After giving up a touchdown drive on the opening series of the game the Cincinnati defense kept the Bengals in the game by forcing the Steelers to punt on four of their next five possessions. Pittsburgh got a 21-yard field goal from Jeff Reed after taking possession at the Bengals 30 following a 15-yard punt by Kyle Larson.
"We tried to settle down after that first drive. We got a good feel for what they were trying to do," said cornerback Leon Hall. "Going into the fourth quarter, it felt like we had the momentum but then it just opened up. It's not good for a defense to end up that way."
Roethlisberger was an efficient 17-of-28 for 216 yards and two touchdowns. The Steelers did not turn the ball over and, as has usually been the case, ran the ball well against the Bengals. Mewelde Moore started in place of an injured Willie Parker but that mattered little as Pittsburgh rushed for 127 yards and averaged 4.6 yards per carry.
"It's awesome to come here, be the new guy, step in, study hard, work hard and see your hard work paying off," said Moore. "It's just executing the game plan. Coach (Mike Tomlin) believes and understands the type of abilities that I have, and they utilized those. It really puts the defense in a tough situation. It is just one of those things where we are always trying to create mismatches, and we are doing a great job."
Moore became the seventh different Steelers player since 1992 to rush for 100 yards or more in a game against the Bengals when he gained 120 yards and scored two touchdowns on 20 carries. He joins the group of five running backs – Barry Foster, Bam Morris, Jerome Bettis, Duce Staley and Parker – plus quarterback Kordell Stewart to top the century mark against Cincinnati in the last 17 seasons.
Pittsburgh's victory gives the Steelers an all-time record of 9-1 at PBS, including their 31-17 win in the 2005 playoffs. The Steelers have won those nine games by an average of 13.2 points and Sunday's 28-point margin of victory was the largest ever for Pittsburgh in a game played in Cincinnati.
The Bengals are 0-7 for the first time since 2002, the season before Lewis was hired as head coach. They got their first win that season on the road against a then-expansion Houston Texans team, 38-3.
The Bengals travel to Houston next Sunday for a 4:05 p.m. (EST) kickoff against the 2-4 Texans.