CINCINNATI -- The Steelers shook off some early bungles in the Jungle, and overcame an 11-point deficit to beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 24-17, Sunday night, in their favorite home away from home.
The comeback victory evened the Steelers record at 3-3, ended their string of road woes and propped up their position in the AFC North Division. First-place Baltimore lost Sunday to slip to 5-2. Cincinnati fell to 3-4.
Since Paul Brown Stadium opened in 2000, the Steelers have won 12 of 14 games here. To make it a dozen, they came back after trailing 14-3 in the second quarter to take a 24-17 lead with 14:16 left in the game.
Rookie Chris Rainey put them ahead with an 11-yard run up the middle through a big hole -- gaining four more yards than he had total entering the game.
While Rainey scored the winner, Jonathan Dwyer scored big as well with 122 yards rushing on a day in which two starting linemen were out as well as their top two backs.
"Guys did what was necessary," Mike Tomlin said of a team that had lost four in a row on the road back to their January playoff game in Denver.
Ben Roethlisberger overcame a jittery start when he threw an interception in the end zone and set up a Cincinnati touchdown with a fumble. He completed 27 of 37 for 278 yards and one touchdown of 9 yards to Heath Miller just before the half that tied the game 14-14 after Roethlsiberger again found Miller on a fade pass for the two-point conversion.
"He stepped up in the pocket and drilled it in," Miller said of the TD pass over the middle.
The turnaround began a few plays earlier. The opportunity to tie it after their series of mistakes came when linebacker LaMarr Woodley intercepted a pass and returned it 11 yards to Cincinnati's 29. The turnover happened after Andy Dalton's pass hit the back of the helmet of his right guard, Kevin Zeitler. the ball popped up and Woodley was right there to snap it up.
"Wewere able to hang around in the game and then Woodley made it a short field," Miller said.
No one on the Steelers defense, though, had a bigger overall game than cornerback Ike Taylor, who has come under criticism for his play this season. Dick LeBeau had him follow Bengals receiver A.J. Green around, as Taylor often does with the opponent's best receiver. Green, who averaged 105 yards a catch per game before Sunday, caught an 8-yard TD pass from Andy Dalton in the second quarter.
It was his only reception of the game as Taylor stepped up his game with brilliant coverage and was aided by a nice knockdown of a pass in the end zone by Keenan Lewis.
"He went against one of the best receivers in the league," lienbacker Larry Foote noted.
After a poor start with dropped passes, an interception and lost fumble, the Steelers dominated the Bengals on offense and defense. They outgained them 431 yards to 185 and doubled their first downs, 22-11.
Receiver Antonio Brown had one of those do-it-all games. He caught seven passes for 96 yards, ran twice for 13 yards, returned punts and should have had a touchdown pass after a handoff except Baron Batch dropped it in the open.
That drop was part of some early foibles by the Steelers as Cincinnati ran out to a 14-3 lead.
Before their turnaround, the Steelers settled for two Shaun Suisham field goals in the first half.
Trailing 7-3 after the first quarter, the Steelers looked poised to reclaim the lead when their second drive reached the Bengals 29. On second-and-two from there, Roethlisberger handed off to Antonio Brown, who pulled up and passed to a wide open Batch running down the left side. Batch dropped the ball with no one near him at the Cincinnati 10.
Nevertheless, an 8-yard pass to Mike Wallace -- who dropped three passes himself -- picked up a first down at the 21. On the next play, Roethlisberger tried to hit Miller over the middle in the back of the endzone, but safety Chris Crocker intercepted instead.
More disaster was in store after a Bengals punt. Brown returned it 34 yards to the Cincinnati 44, but instead of having a first down there, a holding penalty on DeMarcus Van Dyke put the Steelers on their own 13.
On the next play, Robert Geathers and Devon Still sandwiched Roethlisberger on a play-action pass attempt. The ball popped loose, Cincinnati's Wallace Gilberry recovered at the 8.
On the next play, A.J. Green caught a touchdown pass from Andy Dalton for the touchdown .
Cincinnati led, 14-3.
Again the Steelers drove deep on their next drive to a third down at Cincinnati's 29. From there, Roethlisberger threw into the end zone for Wallace, who dropped the ball after cornerback Leon Hall slightly deflected it.
Suisham then kicked a 47-yard field goal, his second of the game, to make it 14-6.
Suisham got things going in the first quarter with a 42-yard field goal to end the game's first drive with a 3-0 lead for the Steelers, a drive that had so much more promise.
It began when Rainey returned the opening kickoff 41 yards to the 40. Roethlisberger kept it going by completing a 23-yard pass to Antonio Brown on third down to the Cincinnati 25. He appeared to do it again on third down from the 24, but a wide open Wallace dropped his first pass, at the 12, bringing on Suisham.
The Bengals responded by driving 80 yards on 14 plays consuming 8:09. After they reached the Steelers 21, they ran five straight times, one of them on fourth-and-one when BenJarvus Green-Ellis picked up the first down. They ran all five off their right side, the last one a five-yard touchdown run by Cedric Peerman to put Cincinnati on top 7-3.
After the Steelers comeback at the end of the first half tied it, the teams traded field goals on the first two drives of the third quarter to stay tied, 17-17.
"We refused to lose," guard Willie Colon said.
First Published October 22, 2012 1:00 AM