Dalton leads Bengals over Steelers
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger’s return wasn’t enough to prevent the Bengals from getting off to their best start in franchise history.
Andy Dalton threw a touchdown pass with 2:57 to go, and the Bengals picked off Roethlisberger twice in the fourth quarter while rallying for a 16-10 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday that kept them unbeaten and in command of the AFC North.
The Bengals are 7-0 for the first time in their history and have a comfortable lead in their division.
The defending AFC North champion Steelers (4-4) hoped that Roethlisberger’s return after missing four games with a sprained knee would kick-start them. After leading most of the game, they fall apart in the closing minutes.
Shawn Williams diving sideline interception at the Pittsburgh 45-yard line set up Dalton’s 9-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green, who had another big game against the Steelers. He finished with 11 catches for 118 yards.
Reggie Nelson’s second interception set up Mike Nugent’s 44-yard field goal with 1:47 to go. The Steelers drove to the Cincinnati 16-yard line with 4 seconds left, but Roethlisberger’s pass went out of the end zone to finish it.
Roethlisberger was 28 of 45 for 262 yards with a touchdown, three interceptions and three sacks. Dalton was 23 of 38 for 231 yards with a touchdown, two fourth-quarter interceptions and three sacks.
In addition to falling to .500, the Steelers lost running back Le’Veon Bell indefinitely to a knee injury. Bell twisted his right knee beneath him as he was tackled in the second quarter and had to be carted off the field. Coach Mike Tomlin said after the game that Bell was being evaluated.
The Bengals ended a three-game losing streak to the Steelers, getting only their second victory in their past six visits to Heinz Field.
Roethlisberger ran out for introductions in a Steelers baseball cap with both arms raised as the crowd gave him the loudest ovation. And it didn’t take long to remind them of what they’d missed.
Roethlisberger completed four of five passes during an opening 80-yard touchdown drive. His 1-yard toss to Antonio Brown capped a 7-minute, 14-second possession — the kind of drive Pittsburgh had trouble pulling off in his absence.
The Steelers managed only one field goal the rest of the way.
The Bengals wasted several scoring chances in the second half as Pittsburgh’s defense tried to hold on.
Cameron Heyward blocked Nugent’s 42-yard field goal try late in the third quarter, and the defense picked off Dalton twice in the fourth quarter. After Cincinnati got a first-and-goal at the 5 early in the fourth quarter, Antwon Blake intercepted Dalton’s third-down pass in the end zone and returned it 42 yards.
Dalton came into the game leading the NFL in passer rating and fourth-quarter rating. He managed to pull off the short TD drive that decided it, making a 23-yard shovel pass to Giovani Bernard while scrambling on a third-down play to set up the score.