Bernard gives Bengals 17-10 lead over Steelers
Running back Giovani Bernard scored his first two NFL touchdowns, one of them on a short pass that he turned into a 27-yard score, and the Cincinnati Bengals led the Pittsburgh Steelers 17-10 after three quarters on Monday night.
The second-round draft pick had a 7-yard touchdown run in the first half and turned a short pass from Andy Dalton into a third-quarter score, a preview of what the Bengals' offense could become with a pass-catching threat out of the backfield.
First-round pick Tyler Eifert also had a big play, making a 61-yard catch that set up Bernard's touchdown run.
The rookies provided the bright spots for the Bengals, who all but abandoned the run and left the game in Dalton's hands. He had another up-and-down showing against a defense that has given him fits with its blitzes.
Dalton repeatedly missed open receivers while going 22 of 39 for 248 yards. His career high for attempts is 46 in a loss at Cleveland last year.
Ben Roethlisberger got Pittsburgh's offense moving late in the second quarter, completing all five of his passes on a touchdown drive that pulled the Steelers into a 10-all tie.
Penned up for most of the half, Roethlisberger finally found his touch by completing passes of 19 and 43 yards to Emmanuel Sanders. His 1-yard throw to Derek Moye - caught over Leon Hall - tied it with 1:54 left in the half.
Shaun Suisham kicked a 44-yard field goal, and the Steelers had a chance to add to it. But another mistake - and they've had a lot of those already - provided the game's first turning point.
Pinned at their 3-yard line after a punt, the Steelers drove into scoring position. Roethlisberger completed a 34-yard pass to tight end David Paulson, who fumbled the ball as he was tackled. Adam ''Pacman'' Jones forced the fumble and recovered it at the Cincinnati 13-yard line.
That led to some of the Bengals' best moments.
Eifert got open between cornerback Ike Taylor and safety Ryan Clark for his 61-yard catch. Bernard finished the long drive with a 7-yard run, his first in the NFL, for the early lead.
With their top draft picks making big plays, the Bengals showed a new side to an offense that has historically struggled against the Steelers. Trouble was, Dalton couldn't get them the ball consistently.
The third-year quarterback was coming off the most accurate game of his career, completing 78.7 percent of his throws during a 24-21 loss at Chicago. Pittsburgh always gives him a rough time.
The Steelers were trying to avoid their first 0-2 start since 2002 and hold onto their standing as one of the AFC North's heavyweights. The Bengals, only 9-20 on Monday nights, were trying to show they're ready to elbow ahead of them.
The most intriguing question: Could Steeler-turned-Bengal James Harrison leave a mark on Pittsburgh's mess of an offense?
The linebacker left Pittsburgh after last season when they couldn't agree on a restricted deal. The former NFL defensive player of the year took his scowl 300 miles down the Ohio River to a team that's trying to supplant the Steelers in the AFC North.
So, the capacity crowd at Paul Brown Stadium - which included a smattering of Terrible Towels - settled in to watch Harrison chase Roethlisberger for the first time since their college days in the Mid-American Conference.
Roethlisberger kept a safe distance.
The Steelers wanted to get their offense moving after a horrid opener. They ran for only 32 yards and Roethlisberger was sacked five times during a 16-9 loss to Tennessee at Heinz Field. Worse, the Steelers lost Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey for the rest of the season with a torn knee ligament. Fernando Velasco, signed a week earlier, started in his place on Monday.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org