Steelers lead Bengals 30-14 in fourth quarter
Shaun Suisham added three field goals for the Steelers, who hardly looked like a team playing out the string despite being in danger of their first losing season in a decade.
The Bengals, looking to move closer to a third straight playoff berth, were undone by a series of special teams miscues.
Le'Veon Bell scored two plays after Cincinnati punter Kevin Huber dropped a snap while standing near the goal line after the Bengals' first possession. Pittsburgh's Will Allen dropped Huber at the 1 and Bell bulled into the end zone on second down for his sixth touchdown of the season.
Cincinnati's issues continued on the ensuing kickoff. Officials ruled Cedric Peerman called for a fair catch at the Cincinnati 9, wiping out a lengthy return. The Bengals eventually punted, setting up the Steelers with a short field. Pittsburgh went 47 yards in eight plays, with Ben Roethlisberger buying enough time for Brown to get open for a 12-yard touchdown strike to make it 14-0.
Brown's early work wasn't done. Cincinnati punted yet again and Brown took it 67 yards right up the middle, breaking a tackle at midfield on his way to the second punt return for a score in his four-year career for Pittsburgh's third touchdown of the quarter.
The Steelers, who need to win to avoid its first losing season since 2003, had been outscored 77-43 in the first quarter coming in.
Huber took a hard hit from Pittsburgh's Terence Garvin during the return. He was down on the field for several minutes before walking straight to the Cincinnati locker room with a fractured jaw. Cincinnati kicker Mike Nugent took over Huber's punting duties.
Bengals linebacker James Harrison, making his first appearance in Pittsburgh since signing with the Bengals in the offseason, left in the first quarter because of a concussion.
Pittsburgh extended its lead to 24-0 before the Bengals steadied themselves with a 47-yard touchdown drive capped by a Giovani Bernard 1-yard run to get to 24-7. The Steelers responded late in the half with a 45-yard field goal by Suisham to give them their biggest halftime lead of the season.
Suisham's third field goal pushed Pittsburgh's advantage to 30-7 before the Bengals responded with a 1-yard touchdown pass from Andy Dalton to Tyler Eifert to bring Cincinnati within two scores and a pair of two-point conversions.
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