Depleted Steelers beat Bengals 24-17

Ben Roethlisberger took the snap and went to his knee for the

final play, tucking the ball under his left arm before heading to

the locker room.

Felt like old times for the Pittsburgh Steelers – and like most

times when they play in Cincinnati.

The Steelers got their first road win of the season and moved

into second place in the AFC North with a 24-17 victory over the

Bengals on Sunday night, overcoming potentially devastating

injuries and mistakes.

Roethlisberger, a bunch of running-game fill-ins and a

determined defense got the Steelers through a tough night,

prompting the quarterback to hold onto the ball at the end.

”That is the first time that we have done the `victory

formation’ this year to end it,” he said.

After dropping their first three road games and putting their

season on the brink so early, the Steelers (3-3) closed in on

Baltimore (5-2), turning the division back into a familiar two-team

race.

”It puts us right there in the hunt,” safety Ryan Clark

said.

They pulled it off even though so many of them were standing on

the sideline in sweat suits. The Steelers were missing their top

two running backs – Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman – as well

as center Maurkice Pouncey and right tackle Marcus Gilbert because

of injury.

It could have gotten very ugly after the Bengals pulled ahead

14-3 in the first half. Instead, Roethlisberger took advantage of

Andy Dalton’s interception, throwing for a tying touchdown and

2-point conversion. And third-year running back Jonathan Dwyer made

his first career start and ran for a career-high 122 yards,

including a 32-yard gain in the closing minute that finished it

off.

”It shows how talented we are and that we try to live up to

that high standard,” Dwyer said.

A lot of players pulled them through.

Shaun Suisham kicked field goals of 42, 47 and 42 yards. And the

defense shut down Cincinnati’s Dalton-to-A.J. Green connection.

”It was a back-against-the-wall mentality and you’ve got to

fight your way out,” said cornerback Ike Taylor, who helped limit

Green, a Pro Bowl receiver, to one catch.

Cincinnati (3-4) wasted yet another chance to show it can keep

up with the division’s best. The Bengals are 0-6 against the

Steelers and Ravens over the last two seasons.

Now, they’ve lost three straight, falling into third place in

the division.

”It’s going to be tough to sleep,” cornerback Leon Hall said.

”At the end of the day, we’ve lost three in a row and we’re in a

tough spot.”

They knew this was their best chance yet to break through,

especially after the Steelers dropped passes, fumbled and threw an

end zone interception in a self-destructive first half. They

couldn’t take advantage against the team that always seems to win

on their home field.

The Steelers improved to 12-2 at Paul Brown Stadium, where

thousands of towel-waving fans make them feel at home. They have

won their last five overall against their Ohio River rival and 10

of the last 12.

And once again, the Bengals could blame themselves.

Andy Dalton’s slip-out-of-the-hand interception set up

Roethlisberger’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Heath Miller and a tying

2-point conversion to the tight end with 24 seconds left in the

half. Chris Rainey’s 11-yard touchdown run put the Steelers ahead

early in the fourth quarter, and the injury fill-ins finished them

off.

”I’m proud of the way those young guys stepped up,” said

Roethlisberger, who was 27 of 37 for 278 yards. ”There never was a

doubt they would do that.”

Dalton’s only glaring mistake made the difference.

He saw a defender waiting to make an interception and tried to

stop his throwing motion. The ball slipped out of his hand, hit the

helmet of Bengals lineman Kevin Zeitler and deflected to linebacker

LaMarr Woodley at the Cincinnati 29-yard line with 1:23 left in the

half. That set up Roethlisberger’s tying TD pass and

conversion.

”You can’t have a thing like that happen,” Dalton said. ”We

had a chance to go down and score points or at least keep it where

it was. What you can’t let happen is not just let the ball slip out

of your hands, but let them get an interception and get

points.”

Dalton was 14 of 28 for only 105 yards with a touchdown and an

interception. He threw six passes toward Green but completed only

one, an 8-yard touchdown after Roethlisberger’s fumble.

”They did a great job taking me out of the game plan,” Green

said. ”That’s what it is.”

NOTES: Steelers rookie NT Alameda Ta’amu served the first game

of his two-game suspension for his arrest last weekend. … Bengals

rookie CB Dre Kirkpatrick was inactive for the seventh game. He

hurt his left knee over the summer and hasn’t played. He’s expected

to be ready after the Bengals’ upcoming bye week. … Bengals C

Jeff Faine injured a hamstring, forcing rookie Trevor Robinson to

take over in the second half.

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