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3 things we learned about the Steelers

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The Sports Xchange

PITTSBURGH — Vincent Rey looked around the Cincinnati Bengals’ locker room and smiled.

“7-0,” the linebacker said to no one in particular. “7-0. How about that?”

The Bengals remained unbeaten Sunday but it wasn’t easy as quarterback Andy Dalton overcame two fourth-quarter interceptions to throw for 235 yards and the winning touchdown, rallying Cincinnati to a 16-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field.

Dalton’s 9-yard touchdown to wide receiver A.J. Green gave the Bengals their first lead, 13-10, with 2:37 remaining.

Fifty seconds later, kicker Mike Nugent added a 44-yard field goal, his third of the game, to help the Bengals build a commanding 3 1/2-game game lead over the second-place Steelers (4-4) in the AFC North.

“Being 7-0 is great and being in first place is great but it’s always a great feeling whenever we beat the Steelers,” Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict said. “They are our archrival. It’s always extra special to come in here and beat them on their home field.”

The Steelers drove to the Cincinnati 16 but the game ended on an incomplete pass by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Dalton completed 22 of 38 passes after entering the game with an NFL-best 161.1 passer rating, but was intercepted twice with the Bengals trailing 10-6, getting picked by Antwon Blake in the end zone and free safety Mike Mitchell at the Pittsburgh 24.

“That’s the way Andy has always been his entire career,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “He’s going to forget that and come right back and go to the next drive. He has a great demeanor that way. That’s one of his great traits.”

Green had 11 receptions for 108 yards.

The Bengals also had two fourth-quarter interceptions of Roethlisberger, who was in his first game back after missing four games with a sprained knee. Strong safety Shawn Williams’ pick set up the winning touchdown and free safety Reggie Nelson’s second interception of the game led to Nugent’s last field goal.

“We were determined we weren’t going to get beat,” Nelson said.

Roethlisberger was 26-for-39 passing for 239 yards and a touchdown but was intercepted three times.

What we learned about the Steelers:

1. Ben Roethlisberger is rusty after missing four games with a knee injury. Roethlisberger drove the Steelers 80 yards for a touchdown on the game’s first possession but otherwise was erratic as he threw three interceptions, including two in the fourth quarter when Cincinnati rallied from a 10-6 deficit to post a 16-10 win. Roethlisberger completed 28 of 45 passes for 262 yards and was also sacked three times as he had limited mobility while wearing a knee brace for the first time in his career.

2 Le’Veon Bell may have avoided a serious injury. A team source told The Sports Xchange that the Steelers are optimistic that the running back sustained only a strained medial collateral ligament in his right knee rather than torn anterior cruciate ligament after being injured in the second quarter and leaving the game. If Bell does have to miss some time, the Steelers’ running game should be in capable hands with backup running back D’Angelo Williams, who broke a 55-yard run while finishing with 71 yards on nine carries.

3. Heath Miller is again an integral part of the offense. With Roethlisberger back, the veteran tight end was targeted 13 times and caught 10 passes for 105 yards. Miller had just four receptions on eight targets during the four games in which Vick and Jones replaced Roethlisberger.

Etc.

–RB Le’Veon Bell was knocked out of the game in the second quarter with a right knee injury. While coach Mike Tomlin said after the game that Bell was being evaluated, a team source told The Sports Xchange that the Steelers are optimistic that he has sprained medial collateral ligament rather than a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Bell caught a pass from QB Ben Roethlisberger, and his knee twisted awkwardly underneath him when tackled by Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict. Bell did not put any weight on the leg as he was helped to a cart and taken to the locker room. Bell also sustained a knee injury in last year’s regular-season finale against the Bengals and miss the Steelers’ loss in the first round of the playoffs against the Ravens. After missing the first two games of the season while serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s drug policy, Bell has rushed for 556 yards and three touchdowns on 113 carries in six games while also catching 24 passes for 136 yards.

–QB Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted three times in his return to the lineup after missing four games with a sprained knee, including twice in the fourth quarter when Cincinnati rallied from a 10-6 deficit to win. Roethlisberger completed 28 of 45 passes for 262 and a touchdown. The Steelers finished with 378 yards after averaging 304 yards in the four games started by QB Michael Vick and QB Landry Jones.

–SS Mike Mitchell was put into the NFL concussion protocol after being injured in the fourth quarter. Mitchell recorded his second interception of the season along with five tackles and two passes defensed.

–FS Will Allen (ankle) missed his third consecutive game despite being a limited participant in practice all week. The Steelers hope he will be able to return Nov. 8 when they host Oakland.

–FS Robert Golden started in place of the injured FS Will Allen for a third straight week. Golden had five tackles.


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