Steelers survive Bengals
CINCINNATI — Chris Boswell kicked a field goal on the final play shortly after Antonio Brown caught a 6-yard touchdown pass — taking a hit to the head while landing in the end zone — and the Pittsburgh Steelers pulled off another improbable comeback against the Cincinnati Bengals, rallying for a 23-20 victory Monday night.
Down 17-0 early, the Steelers (10-2) extended their best start since 2004 in a physical game with a couple frightening injuries. Brown’s touchdown tied it at 20 with 3:51 to go, setting up Boswell’s 38-yard field goal, his second straight winner in the closing seconds.
The Bengals (5-7) simply can’t find a way to beat their Ohio River rival, not even after getting off to the big early lead. They’ve dropped six straight and nine of 10 against Pittsburgh, including the Steelers’ 18-16 playoff win at Paul Brown Stadium in 2015 that included another Bengals meltdown.
The hard-hitting game was full of personal fouls, penalties and injuries that could have a long-term effect, especially for the AFC North leaders.
Pittsburgh lost leading tackler Ryan Shazier to a back injury in the first quarter. The linebacker was taken off the field on a cart and taken to a hospital for evaluation. Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict was carted off in the fourth quarter after JuJu Smith-Schuster leveled him with a high hit, then taunted him by walking over him.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin did not have an update on Shazier’s status after the game.
There were 11 personal fouls in another acrimonious rematch in their hard-edged series. The Bengals self-destructed with 13 penalties for a team-record 173 yards.
The AFC North-leading Steelers remain tied with New England for best record in the conference. They host the Patriots on Dec. 17.
Bottled up by Cincinnati’s aggressive defense in the first half, Pittsburgh’s playmakers made the difference down the stretch, just as they have all season. They rallied to beat the Packers 31-28 last Sunday on Boswell’s 53-yard field goal on the final play, which was set up by Brown’s incredible sideline catch.
After missing practice last week with an injured toe, Brown ran gingerly in pregame warmups and had another big game, finishing with 101 yards in eight catches. Le’Veon Bell ran for 76 yards and had another 106 yards on five catches, including a 35-yard touchdown play in which he remarkably kept his balance along the sideline — cornerback William Jackson pulled up, thinking there was no way he could stay inbound.
It’s the first time that Bell and Brown each had 100 yards receiving in the same game. Ben Roethlisberger was 24 of 40 for 290 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception.
PRIME TIME OPPOSITES
The Steelers have won 11 straight prime-time games, including four already this season against the Lions (Sunday night), the Titans (Thursday night) and the Packers (last Sunday night). It’s been a horrific time slot for the Bengals, who are 11-24 on Monday night, dropping their past four.
Roethlisberger has won his last seven prime-time starts, throwing 26 touchdowns and five interceptions. In those games, Brown has 58 catches for 883 yards with 15 touchdowns.
IN YOUR FACE
Bell and Burfict have a long-running feud on Twitter, and it got in-your-face right away. After Adam “Pacman” Jones picked off a pass to end the Steelers’ opening possession, Bell shoved Burfict’s facemask and drove him to the ground, drawing a personal foul.
Steelers: Brown missed practice last week with a toe injury. He moved slowly during pregame warmups but started and finished with eight catches for 101 yards.
Bengals: Jones injured his groin on his first-quarter interception and didn’t return. Running back Joe Mixon suffered a concussion late in the first half.
Steelers host second-place Baltimore (7-5) next Sunday night in their fourth prime-time game of the season. They won at Baltimore 26-9 on Oct. 1.
Bengals host the Bears (3-9), completing a stretch of three straight home games. Cincinnati is 3-2 at Paul Brown Stadium this season.