CINCINNATI (AP) — First-round pick Tyler Eifert got open for a 61-yard catch, and second-round pick Giovani Bernard finished the long drive with a 7-yard touchdown run Monday night, putting the Cincinnati Bengals up on the Pittsburgh Steelers 7-3 after the first quarter.
With their top draft picks making big plays, the Bengals showed a new side to an offense that has historically struggled against the Steelers.
Pittsburgh got the early lead when Shaun Suisham kicked a 44-yard field goal and had a chance to add to it. But another mistake — they've had a lot of those already — provided the game's first turning point.
Pinned at their 3-yard line after a punt, the Steelers drove into scoring position. Ben Roethlisberger completed a 34-yard pass to tight end David Paulson, who fumbled the ball as he was tackled. Adam "Pacman" Jones recovered it at the Cincinnati 13-yard line.
From there, Andy Dalton got the offense moving after a ragged start. Eifert got open between cornerback Ike Taylor and safety Ryan Clark for his long catch-and-run, which set up Bernard's first NFL touchdown.
The Steelers were trying to avoid their first 0-2 start since 2002 and hold onto their standing as one of the AFC North's heavyweights. The Bengals, only 9-20 on Monday nights, were trying to show they're ready to elbow ahead of them.
The most intriguing question of the game: Could Steeler-turned-Bengal James Harrison leave a mark on Pittsburgh's mess of an offense?
The linebacker left Pittsburgh after last season when they couldn't agree on a restricted deal. The former NFL defensive player of the year took his scowl 300 miles down the Ohio River to a team that's trying to supplant the Steelers in the AFC North.
So, the capacity crowd at Paul Brown Stadium — which included a smattering of Terrible Towel wavers — settled in to watch Harrison chase Roethlisberger for the first time since their college days in the Mid-American Conference.
They kept their distance early.
Pittsburgh needed to get its offense moving after a horrid opener. The Steelers ran for only 32 yards and Roethlisberger was sacked five times during a 16-9 loss to Tennessee at Heinz Field. Worse, the Steelers lost Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey for the rest of the season with a torn knee ligament. Fernando Velasco, signed a week earlier, started in his place.
The Steelers suffered another setback when running back Isaac Redman left early to get examined for a possible concussion.
The Bengals were coming off a 24-21 loss at Chicago that saw them play impressively for three quarters, then fall apart at the end, losing because of penalties and turnovers. One of the NFL's top defenses failed to get a sack, a particular disappointment.
Dalton completed a career-best 78.7 percent of his passes against the Bears, but had a history of struggling against the Steelers, whose blitzing defense has provided some of his roughest moments. He missed his first three passes on Monday, two of them way off the mark.
His perfect throw to Eifert snapped the Bengals out of their bad start. He was 7 of 11 for 105 yards in the quarter.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Ben Roethlisberger
- Tyler Eifert
- Giovani Bernard