The 6-2 Steelers broke out to a 27-7 lead when Antwaan Randle El threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted on the Steelers' next series, and the Bengals moved 36 yards in four plays with the help of three Steelers penalties. The drive was capped by Cedric Benson's 1-yard touchdown run to cut the Steelers' lead to 27-21 with 9:05 left in the game.
The Bengals took possession at their 36 with 3:59 to play and overcame LaMarr Woodley's second sack by converting a third-and-14 with a 16-yard juggling catch and run by Benson. The Bengals eventually moved to the Pittsburgh 12 from where Palmer threw incomplete to Owens on third-and-5 and then incomplete to Jordan Shipley on fourth-and-5. The pass hit Shipley in the chest at the Pittsburgh 3, but Ike Taylor and James Harrison hit Shipley to break up the pass with 40 seconds remaining.
The Steelers had taken an early 10-0 lead due to Bengals mistakes. Emmanuel Sanders forced Bernard Scott to fumble the opening kickoff. Jason Worilds recovered to set up Mendenhall's 1-yard touchdown run. William Gay blocked a Bengals punt on the their first offensive series and Reed kicked a 25-yard field goal.
The Bengals cut the lead to 10-7 in the second quarter on a 19-yard Palmer pass to Owens.
Late in the second quarter, Hines Ward pulled in an 8-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger and Reed kicked a 53-yard field goal and the Steelers had pushed the lead back to 20-7 by halftime.
Mendenhall led all rushers with 99 yards on 22 carries. Roethlisberger completed 17 of 27 for 163 yards with an interception and touchdown. Wallace caught 5 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown.
For the Bengals, Benson carried 18 times for 54 yards; Palmer was 22 of 36 for 248 with 2 touchdowns and an interception by Lawrence Timmons; and Owens caught 10 passes for 141 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Here's Steelers coach Mike Tomlin's press conference, already in progress:
"… but we did enough to win the game. I liked some things that I saw. I thought running the football was tough there, but when we had to I thought we moved the ball on the ground and put ourselves in position to secure the game. Of course, we missed the kick and weren't able to do that. The defense had to take the field. They did enough.
"Carson Palmer and company, with timeouts, is a tough crew to deal with. We've seen that horror flick before. I like this ending a little better than I did of course last time we were here. But it's all a learning process. Along the way you've got to find ways to win games. Hopefully we're better for this experience. We like to learn when we win. We'd better learn quick. We've got a scalding Patriots outfit coming into our place. What else is new? National Football League. We'll accept those challenges and make no excuses for the things that we do.
Q: Coach, it seemed like you did a very good job of capitalizing on their mistakes.
A: You know, initially we created some opportunities for ourselves with the fumble on the opening kickoff, and the blocked kick by William Gay provided a spark for us, but of course that spark faded. Such is life. You knew this was going to be a 60-minute game. It was an awesome atmosphere. The crowd support was spectacular. They're a good football team, so it wasn't going to be easy by any stretch.
Q: When you got the ball back after Roethlisberger's interception, you ran it exclusively. Was that your input?
A: That's situational football. Shoot, you've written quite a bit that we've got to run the football better in a timely manner. That's a timely manner. That's a sequence right there when you've got to run the football and run it effectively. I thought we did. Even the third-down play, I thought we were pretty close to coming out of the other end of that thing. Doug Legursky was on a pull and the guy kind of slipped underneath him, but we didn't.
Q: How about the play of your offensive line, considering it was a carousel of injured players there for a while?
A: We're not going to make excuses. The guys on the field represent us and they're capable. They understand our standard and they play to it.
Q: What about your plan of throwing often on first down?
A: We wanted to mix it, and as always is the case we feel we're capable of moving it on the ground or through the air. We tried to keep them off balance. They're a good group. They're very familiar – they're highly familiar – with us, not only from a personnel standpoint, but schematically. So you've got to be thoughtful about how you approach it, and I thought we were.
Q: On the final defensive play of the game, it looked like James Harrison took the ball out of the hands of the rookie wide receiver. What did you think of that play?
A: It's really quite typical of James and the kind of play he provides us. This guy's a great football player. He's a detail guy. He's a diligent worker. A lot has been written and said about him of late, but that's not the James that we know. This guy is a good football player. He makes timely plays for us. We like him to be measured by plays such as that and not unfortunate penalties and so forth.
(SteelCityInsider.net will post the transcript of Tomlin's Tuesday afternoon press conference soon after its 1 p.m. conclusion.)