Hines Ward did not take long to answer the $15,000 in fines he has received in unnecessary roughness calls the past two games.
Ward, who vowed not to change his style of play after the fines, blasted Keith Rivers so hard on the fourth play from scrimmage that he knocked the linebacker out for the season with a broken jaw.
After the play, Ward walked away from Rivers toward the middle of the field and raised his arms in jubilation.
"It was a clean hit," Ward said. "I didn't stand over the guy or anything. I just celebrated, the same as a guy does when he gets a sack."
On the previous play, Ward caught a pass, avoided a tackler, changed directions and completed a 29-yard play on third down. Ben Roethlisberger came back on the next play to hit Matt Spaeth on the left side. Ward, running a route downfield, curled back and nailed Rivers in the middle of the chest so hard he knocked the 241-pound linebacker backward.
At least one Bengals player took issue with the hit.
"That's his M.O.," safety Chinedum Ndukwe said. "That's what he's known for. You expect that coming in. People are going to take their shots when they can.
"Too bad he can't hit someone face-up. It's too bad he has to wait until he's not looking to get him. It's unfortunate. It's the type of guy he is."
Ward said he won't back down.
"I'm not going to change my ways. If they're going to keep fining me for that, then I'm going to get fined all year. I don't know if I hurt him or not, but that wasn't my intention."
Ward said he said a prayer for Rivers as he slowly walked off the field.
Max Starks made his first start of the season, and that $7 million salary seemed a bit more justified when he played a near-flawless left tackle.
Roethlisberger was not sacked for the first time this season and only the second time in two seasons, and former No. 3 halfback Mewelde Moore rushed for 120 yards.
"Max Starks stepped in at left tackle and, based on how we moved the ball and protected him, I can say he did a good job," coach Mike Tomlin said. "I think that group is coming together."
Starks replaced Marvel Smith, who is having back problems again, and Darnell Stapleton made his second consecutive start at right guard for Kendall Simmons, who is out for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
"I did all right," Starks said. "I think as a unit we played great. I played good enough as one of the five. I'm not going to say I had an exceptional game or bad game. I had one mental mistake. You like to say you had zero."
Two more starters joined the handful of injured Steelers when safety Troy Polamalu and cornerback Bryant McFadden each left the game for good on the same play early in the fourth quarter.
Polamalu rammed his helmet into the shoulder of Bengals halfback Cedric Benson so hard that the safety's helmet went flying and he wobbled off the field.
Tomlin said Polamalu was "dinged," normally a euphemism for a concussion. "We'll see where he is," Tomlin said. "There are no judgments."
McFadden left the field because of an arm injury that Tomlin said, "hopefully is not anything long term."
Offensive lineman Jeremy Parquet, signed from the Steelers' practice squad to their 53-man roster Saturday, dressed for the game as one of two backup offensive linemen. Trai Essex is the other. Nose tackle Scott Paxson, released Saturday, could be re-signed to the practice squad today. ... Cornerback Ike Taylor was fined $5,000 for wearing the wrong socks in the game against Jacksonville Oct. 5. ... Rookie wide receiver Limas Sweed made his first appearance in a game as part of the opening kickoff team, then caught his first pass in the fourth quarter -- an 11-yarder from backup quarterback Byron Leftwich. ... The Bengals started Cedric Benson at halfback in place of Chris Perry. ... Chad Johnson's touchdown reception in the second quarter was his first against the Steelers since 2004 and only his third against them. ... Mewelde Moore's two touchdown runs were the first rushing touchdowns by the Steelers since Willie Parker scored three in the opener. ... The crowd gave the Bengals an ovation when they finally made a first down with just under five minutes left in the first half, at their 18. ... Roethlisberger, a Findlay, Ohio, native, ran his record to 11-0 in the state against its two NFL teams, sweeping the Browns and Bengals on the road again. "That's another year," the quarterback said, smiling. ... No Steelers receiver has a 100-yard game yet. ... The Steelers are 5-0 against the AFC and have won 10 of their past 12 against the AFC North. ... The Bengals (0-7) have not had a 100-yard rushing performance or a 300-yard passing performance this year. ... The Bengals have just five sacks in seven games, and have allowed 26. ... The Steelers have not allowed a 100-yard rusher this season.
Steelers: QB Dennis Dixon, RB Carey Davis, RB Willie Parker, LB Keyaron Fox, OT Tony Hills, OT Marvel Smith, WR Dallas Baker, NT Casey Hampton.
Cincinnati: QB Carson Palmer, WR Glenn Holt, K Shayne Graham, CB Jamar Fletcher, LB Corey Mays, TE Ben Utecht, DT Orien Harris, DT Jason Shirley.
Ed Bouchette can be reached at email@example.com .