Steelers vs. Bengals: Pittsburgh Edges Cincinnati 24-17 in AFC North Clash

Ethan GrantAnalyst IOctober 21, 2012

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 21:  Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the ball while defended by Adam Jones #24 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the NFL game at Paul Brown Stadium on October 21, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to use a balanced second-half attack and an old-school running game to knock off the Cincinnati Bengals by seven, 24-17.   

In a sloppy offensive game by both units, it was the little plays that ended up being the difference on Sunday Night Football in this AFC North showdown. Pittsburgh looked like they had turned back the clock to 2005 with long, clock-eating touchdown drives in the second half.

Antonio Brown was the big-time playmaker for the Steelers, as he torched this Bengals team in both the secondary and on special teams.

Jonathan Dwyer also had a nice game for the Steelers, replacing the injured Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman. Drawing comparisons to Jerome Bettis from the booth, Dwyer helped run the clock out and seal the victory. 

Ben Roethlisberger wasn't forced to make any game-changing throws, keeping the chains moving when necessary and controlling the pace of this game in a way Pittsburgh hasn't been able to do so far this season.

After jumping out to a 14-3 lead, Andy Dalton helped turn the tide with a second quarter interception. The ball appeared to slip out of his hands as he tried to pull it back to his chest. According to ESPN Stats and Information, he joins elite company in the interception business.

Andy Dalton: 2nd QB in Bengals history with an INT in each of his first 7 games of a season (other: Carson Palmer, 2004)

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 22, 2012

It was that kind of night for the Cincinnati offense, which refused to incorporate the team's best playmaker into the offense when it mattered most.

Despite a first quarter touchdown pass, star receiver A.J. Green was hounded by double coverage all night long. He was mostly a non-factor, as the rest of the Cincinnati offense stepped up to keep the chains moving.

Deep into the fourth quarter, here were the stats for Green.

The story of this game was the Steelers, who used their first turnover to spur a 21-3 outburst. The defense kept Dalton from getting into a good rhythm, and was able to get off the field on third down, where the Bengals went 5-for-13.

Steelers once down 14-3, now lead 24-17 --- #TerribleTowelComeback

NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) October 22, 2012

The Steelers took control of this game in the second half, but had it not been for some early Mike Wallace and Baron Batch drops, they might have won by 25.

Batch, the seldom used running back from Texas Tech, let a perfectly thrown pass from Brown slip through his hands on a wide receiver reverse pass in the second quarter. Roethlisberger would throw an interception to end the drive.

Wallace had four drops on the night, one of which came in the end zone, giving way to an unflattering comparison from Andrew Siciliano of NFL Network.

Mike Wallace has a case of the Dez Bryants

— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) October 22, 2012

The Steelers were able to overcome the offensive struggles in the passing game, though, and relied on big plays to take out the Bengals on the road.

No doubt Marvin Lewis will be under the microscope yet again in the coming weeks, as some questionable play calls late in the game helped give Pittsburgh a decided advantage. One of those plays was a challenge on a would-be fumble, where he should have challenged the spot of the ball.

Cincinnati also chose to run the ball with less than five minutes to go on consecutive plays to start their drive, still down by seven at that point in the game.

The result takes Pittsburgh to 3-3, giving the Steelers a much-needed win with Baltimore and Cleveland both dropping games earlier in the day. Cincinnati drops to 3-4, while losing a needed point in the tiebreaker column after the loss.

Looking ahead, the Steelers have a home game against the Washington Redskins and Robert Griffin III in Week 8, while Cincinnati will get Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.