Steelers sweep Bengals, 24-10

The Pittsburgh Steelers improved to 9-3 on a rain-soaked night at Heinz Field, defeating the Cincinnati Bengals, 24-10.

PITTSBURGH – Bring on the Patriots.

The conditions at Heinz Field were not all that different from what they were here last Monday night when the Steelers and Miami Dolphins slogged their way through the mud in a 3-0 Pittsburgh victory.

But the Steelers, who travel to New England next week to take on the unbeaten Patriots, apparently learned something in that low-scoring affair about how to move the ball in less than ideal conditions.

While Pittsburgh relied on a short passing game and a straight-ahead rushing attack, Cincinnati didn't adjust from its normal down-the-field passing attack.

The result was less-than-stellar performance from Carson Palmer and company, who looked inept all night and were unable to take advantage of four Pittsburgh turnovers.

The Steelers lost two fumbles and with two interceptions, but Cincinnati (4-8) never found any offensive rhythm.

Palmer completed just 17 of 44 passes for 183 yards and Cincinnati's rushing attack produced 74 yards as the Bengals seemed to bog down in the rain.

Cincinnati took a 7-0 lead on the game's opening possession, moving methodically down the field to score on a one-yard run by Rudi Johnson.

In fact, Cincinnati dominated the play in the first quarter, holding a 10:18 to 4:42 edge in time of possession in the first 15 minutes.

But the Bengals could only put one score on the board and the game's momentum seemed to turn on a missed 43-yard field goal by Shayne Graham early in the second quarter.

Just as the Bengals had dominated the first 15 minutes of play, the Steelers controlled the second 15-minute period, putting up 17 points to take a 17-7 lead into the half.

Ben Roethlisberger, who was 21 of 32 for 184 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, scrambled for a six-yard touchdown run and tossed a two-yard TD pass to Hines Ward, while Jeff Reed booted a 21-yard field goal as the Steelers scored points on all three of their second quarter possessions.

But a third-quarter fumble by Willie Parker, just his first since losing one in a season- opening victory at Cleveland and third fumble of the season, set up a 24-yard Graham field goal that trimmed the Steelers' lead to 17-10 with 6:59 remaining in the third quarter.

Roethlisberger and Ward countered by playing pitch-and-catch all the way down the field and regained control of the game on an eight-yard touchdown pass that was Ward's 64th career scoring reception. That broke Hall of Famer John Stallworth's team record of 63.

A second Parker fumble gave the Bengals the ball at their own 47 with 12:31 remaining to play, but the Steelers forced the Bengals to punt after three plays.

The Bengals pinned the Steelers back at their own 6 with the ensuing punt and Robert Geathers appeared to sack Roethlisberger in the end zone for a safety, but corner Leon Hall was penalized for defensive holding.

Cincinnati took the ball back, however, two plays later when Jonathan Joseph intercepted a Roethlisberger pass at the Pittsburgh 17.

But a fourth-down pass by Palmer to wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh fell incomplete and the Steelers regained possession at their own 3 with 6:18 left to play.

Ward finished with 11 catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns.

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