CINCINNATI – Ike Taylor did something against the Bengals he hadn't done previously in 12 NFL seasons.
He took himself out of a game.
Taylor departed after an 81-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Andy Dalton to wide receiver A.J. Green had given the Bengals a 21-17 lead on the final play of the third quarter on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. It was announced shortly thereafter in the press box that Taylor was questionable to return with right shoulder and left knee injuries. But Taylor insisted after the Steelers' 42-21 victory that he removed himself because he just wasn't getting it done.
"If you're not able to go 100 percent you have to sit your butt down," Taylor said. I felt like, 'Man, I can't keep putting my team in that situation.' As much as I want to be out there, playing corner you have to be able to run.
"Pretty much everybody, including the coaching staff, agreed."
Antwon Blake took over at cornerback opposite William Gay in the base defense. Brice McCain continued to play the third-cornerback role in sub-packages.
Green finished with 11 catches for a career-high 224 yards and a touchdown.
"I had him when I was out there on the field," Taylor said.
The Steelers mixed in some no-huddle offense against the Bengals, but they were also methodical and seemingly as patient as they needed to be while in the process of winding up with 543 total net yards, including a 94-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to wide receiver Martavis Bryant and a 53-yard run by running back Le'Veon Bell.
"I think we always have to be aware sometimes you have to take what the defense gives you," Roethlisberger said. "They gave us a lot of good runs and check-downs and then we took our shots when we had it."
Not turning the ball over was also a critical element of the Steelers' success (the Bengals lost two fumbles).
"That's kind of been our issue when we've lost games, it's usually because we turn the ball over," Roethlisberger said. "We didn't (against the Bengals) and that's key to winning."
Bell finished with 185 yards rushing, averaged 7.1 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns on 26 carries and added 50 yards receiving and another score on six catches. He had 75 yards and had averaged 3.9 yards per carry through three quarters.
"When you're able to be OK running the ball for three quarters, if you're able to stay with it and not get out of it, that's when the big runs happen," tight end Heath Miller said.
TAKING A PUNCH**
Green had a 56-yard reception to the Steelers' 13-yard line in the second quarter that set up the Bengals' first touchdown in addition to his 81-yard scoring reception. And Cincinnati's second touchdown came via a 20-yard scamper by quarterback Andy Dalton on a read/option keeper.
But the big plays didn't unnerve the Steelers' defense.
"Any time you have negative plays, or positive plays, you can't sit there and dwell on it," said Arthur Moats, who shared right outside linebacker with Jarvis Jones in James Harrison's absence. "You have to just move on to the next play.
"We were all talking 'next play, next play, we gotta get a turnover, we gotta make a big play happen.'"
Moats' fumble recovery of a read/option bobble by Dalton at the Cincinnati 24-yard line with the Bengals ahead, 21-20, early in the fourth quarter qualified on both accounts.
Moats finished with a career-high two sacks, pushing his season total to a career-high four, and also had a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
The Steelers (8-5) have won at least eight games in 11 consecutive seasons, dating back to their 6-10 finish in 2003. Only New England has a longer active streak (14).
LE'VEON, MEET WALTER
Bell's 235 yards from scrimmage gave him at least 200 in three straight games. Only Walter Payton (1977) had accomplished that feat previously.
THEY SAID IT
"He took some nice steps. He finally got a chance to start. I don't want it to be a blip on the radar. I want him to continue to do this. He worked his tail off in practice, and he was ready. I want this to happen every, single time. He's a good player, but he can be a great player if he continues to work." – Defensive end Cam Heyward on rookie defensive end Stephon Tuitt.
"AFC North (Division) football. It felt like an awesome day back in Oxford, Ohio. It was a lot of fun out there." – Roethlisberger on playing the Bengals in Cincinnati.
"It was huge. We had to have this one, yeah. Now, the next one is just as big." – Tight end Matt Spaeth on beating the Bengals in Cincinnati.