PITTSBURGH - The Cincinnati Bengals came to town Sunday bearing a bright "new and improved" tag.
These weren't the same old "Bungles," who traditionally bickered among themselves on the sidelines, had more violent arguments behind closed doors at halftime, and always seemed to get the least out of the talent they assembled.
This was a new day, with a new quarterback, a bright new Bengals outlook.
Turns out it was false advertising.
That was good news for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who ran up an efficient 35-7 victory on the sandy grass of Heinz Field Sunday afternoon.
Ben Roethlisberger was wearing a big smile and a baseball cap by the fourth quarter, visual proof of how well the day had gone.
Charlie Batch came in to mop up, as the Bengals' thoughts turned to what kind of sandwich would be featured in the box lunches stacked outside their locker room for the bus ride to the airport.
The Steelers improved to 9-3 and kept pace in the AFC North, even though the Baltimore Ravens hold the tiebreaker over them.
The odd thing about Sunday's crushing of the Bengals was that things actually started well for Cincinnati.
The Bengals scored a touchdown on their first possession, only to have it called back on a false start penalty because receiver A.J. Green twitched right before the snap.
It was disappointing, given that the Bengals had gotten to the Steelers' 4. So they settled for Mike Nugent's 28-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.
Except the field goal was negated by a delay of game penalty, wiping out the points and pushing the kick back five yards.
Nugent's do-over was blocked by Cameron Heyward, and recovered by Ryan Clark.
The Bengals had gone from six points to three points to zero in three snaps.
Turned out that was a pretty good forecast of how their day was headed.
The Steelers failed on their first possession, which helped the first quarter end in a scoreless tie.
But they scored touchdowns on their next three drives and pretty much whomped the Bengals, who were wishing there was some way the clock would run faster.
The Steelers shredded them every which way.
Rashard Mendenhall scored on two short runs to make it 14-0. Stephenson Sylvester forced a fumble that Emmanuel Sanders recovered at the Bengals' 23.
That set up a 12-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace that gave the Steelers a 21-0 lead in just over four minutes.
When it was over, the Steelers had scored twice on the ground, twice through the air and once on Antonio Brown's 60-yard punt return.
A week after a trip to Kansas City turned into a stressful 13-9 victory, the Steelers had a comfort margin. That gave them the chance to rest regulars, empty the bench and go home with a good feeling.
A short week looms with Thursday's prime time visit from the Cleveland Browns, but the last month is loaded with slam dunks.
The Dec. 18 Monday night in San Francisco should be tough, but after that it's home to the St. Louis Rams and a New Year's Day finale in Cleveland.
At 9-3 now, it's hard to forecast the Steelers ending the season less than 12-4, which would match last season's regular season record.
But in the moment, there's the warm glow that comes from beating the Bengals. Again.
One more Bungling moment: With just 1:54 left in the game and those box lunches beckoning, the Bengals had a chance at one more possession.
But Cedric Peerman was flagged for running into punter Jeremy Kapinos, and the Steelers kept the ball. Batch knelt three times to run out the clock.
Bungling to the very end? Those supposedly new and improved Bengals had a familiar look.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org