Bengals outmuscle Steelers

Cincinnati takes control of the AFC North with an 18-12 win in Pittsburgh.

There would be no heroics from Ben Roethlisberger in this one.

Down six points with just under two minutes to play, the Pittsburgh Steelers needed to do something they had not done all day against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Get into the end zone.

Just as they had done all day against the Bengals, the Steelers failed again turning the ball over after four consecutive incompletions.

As a result, the Bengals are the team to beat in the AFC North after defeating the Steelers, 18-12, at Heinz Field.

Four times the Steelers drove inside the Cincinnati 20. And all four times the Steelers settled for field goals.

Cincinnati (7-2) now holds sole possession of first place in the AFC North over the Steelers (6-3). And having swept the season series with Pittsburgh – just the second time since 1990 that has happened – the Bengals, in effect, hold a two-game lead with seven games remaining.

The Bengals harassed Roethlisberger throughout the game, sacking him four times and pressuring him on four other occasions. They also batted down five passes at the line of scrimmage, holding the Steelers to just three third down conversions in 15 attempts.

The Steelers' defense was nearly as good – despite losing strong safety Troy Polamalu to a knee injury in the first quarter – limiting Cincinnati to four third down conversions on 14 attempts.

The Steelers finished with 226 total yards, while the Bengals had 218.

But Cincinnati did do something the Steelers could not – score a touchdown.

The Steelers had no trouble driving the length of the field on their opening drive, but stalled at the Cincinnati 10 when Roethlisberger's third-down pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage.

Pittsburgh settled for a 28-yard Jeff Reed Field goal and a 3-0 lead.

The lead was short-lived, however, as Cincinnati rookie running back Bernard Scott returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. The PAT attempt was botched when holder Kevin Huber dropped the snap and the Bengals settled for a 6-3 lead.

The Steelers tied the game with 4:18 left in the first half after driving to the Cincinnati 8. Roethlisberger was sacked for a seven-yard loss on third down by Jonathan Fanene and Reed booted a 33-yard field goal.

Cincinnati was unable move the ball and punted it back to the Steelers with 2:52 remaining.

Rookie wide receiver Mike Wallace drew a 46-yard pass interference penalty to move the ball to the Cincinnati 30. But the Steelers were once again forced to settle for a field goal, this time from 35 yards, for a 9-6 halftime lead.

The Bengals tied the game on their opening possession of the second half, as defensive lineman Frostee Rucker intercepted a deflected pass on third down and returned it to the Pittsburgh 14. The Bengals couldn't get into the end zone, but Graham kicked a 23-yard field goal to tie the score at 9-9.

The Bengals then forged ahead on their next possession after taking over at their own 47 following a Pittsburgh punt. They drove to the Steelers' 14 before stalling again, but took the lead on a 32-yard Graham field goal.

Pittsburgh tied it on a 34-yard Reed field goal at 12-12 with 11:24 left after driving to the Cincinnati 11, but the Bengals put the game away in the fourth quarter getting field goals of 32 and 43 yards from Graham while eating up 9:37 of the clock in the final quarter.

"It's a game of three phases and, really, they outplayed us in all three," said Steelers free safety Ryan Clark. "Their offense scored enough to win the game. Their defense got enough stops in the red zone and their special teams outplayed us."


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