In case there was any lingering doubt, the Bengals reminded the Steelers of as much by taking their first possession of the second half and using 11 plays to cover 67 yards and put the ball in the Steelers' end zone.
That brought Cincinnati all the way back from an early 14-0 deficit and tied the game at 17 with a quarter and a half remaining.
The tie was broken again on the next possession. The deadlock was brief because the Steelers' response was definitive.
There remained some details with which to attend after Rashard Mendenhall ran through Ray Maualuga and into the end zone from 9 yards out. But that response drive for the had-to-have-it touchdown that potentially saved the season was as revealing and as it was reassuring. It was as if the Steelers said to the Bengals, "We'll see your 11-play drive and raise you an 11-play drive."
The Steelers' 11-play, 81-yard drive restored order, if not total control.
And on a day that began with the Bengals actually having a better record (6-2) than The Ohio State University (6-4), the restoring of order was an important goal.
The Steelers did so by going no-huddle. As Ben Roethlisberger explained it, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians asked if Roethlisberger wanted to try it right about then, and didn't have to ask twice. The Steelers went no-huddle on the road for the first time this season, Roethlisberger said, because "we needed it.
"It was just time, time to step up and change the pace a little bit," he continued. "Get some guys active and get them the ball. I think we spread it around pretty good in that no-huddle.
"The mentality was, ‘OK, let's go no-huddle, let's try to get down there, let's answer.' We take pride as an offense in wanting to be the best. It was our time to do it and step up and score."
And so off they went.
They got carries out of Mendenhall and Isaac Redman. They got catches from Jerricho Cotchery, Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown. They overcame a sack and the temporary loss of Max Starks. They stepped up and scored.
That's what the Steelers' offense is made of.
The defense did a little stepping up, as well. Two of the Bengals' four fourth-quarter possessions ended with punts. The other two ended on interceptions. After the second of those, the Steelers' offense ran out the clock the way teams with serious championship aspirations are supposed to. It took a pass to Weslye Saunders to help make that happen, but Roethlisberger never blinked in throwing it. It was Saunders' second reception of the season, and it went for 11 yards n a first down.
That's who the Steelers are, too.
That's part of what they're made of.