CINCINNATI - There were times when the Steelers simply weren't playing well, times when they were hurting themselves with penalties and times when the Bengals were dictating what was happening on the field and what was reflected on the scoreboard.
But in the end it was something the Steelers didn't do that mattered most.
"There was never any panic," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said of Sunday afternoon's come-from-behind, 24-20 victory at Paul Brown Stadium. "We kept grinding and continued to make plays."
The Steelers trailed 3-0 and 10-3 in the first quarter and they were down 20-6 with less then three minutes remaining prior to halftime.
They didn't score a touchdown until midway through the fourth quarter and they didn't grab the lead until they finally got the ball over the goal line on a 24-yard Roethlisberger pass to wide receiver Eli Rogers with 7:59 left in regulation.
The Steelers only had the ball for 12:01 over the first two quarters.
But they outscored the Bengals 15-0 in the second half and out-gained the Bengals 122-9 in the fourth quarter in the process.
"We needed to weather their initial storm," free safety Mike Mitchell said. "We just really needed to get back in the locker room, settle down. We took their best shot. We knew it was going to be our turn (in the second half). And obviously, they couldn't take it.
"We follow the attitude of our leader (head coach Mike Tomlin). We do not blink. I think we probably handle adversity better than any team in the league and it showed."
SIX-TIMES-THREE:** Kicker Chris Boswell tied a franchise record with six field goals, from 45, 49, 49, 40, 49 and 30 yards away, and also contributed a touchdown-saving tackle on what became a 72-yard kickoff return by Bengals wide receiver Alex Erickson.
No wonder Boswell was awarded the game ball.
"Those weren't just chip shots," Roethlisberger said. "Those were some bombs he hit into some wind. How about the tackle he made? Awesome, he deserved the game ball."
Added Tomlin: "You kick six field goals, that's big business."
NEXT MAN UP: The Steelers lost defensive end Stephon Tuitt (knee) on the game's first series and they lost defensive end Ricardo Mathews (ankle) for a stretch.
Cornerback Stephon Tuitt said the players on defense were never in danger of trying to do too much to compensate for such losses, even as the Bengals enjoyed some early success and the Steelers' defensive line grew thin by attrition.
"No, because we've been down that path before," Cockrell said. "We know where it leads us. It leads us to a four-game losing streak.
"It's the next-man-up mentality and that's how Steeler football is played."
That applied, Cockrell maintained, even when losing Tuitt with defensive end Cam Heyward (Reserve/Injured) already lost for the season.
"It obviously stresses," the defense, Cockrell said. "Those are good players for us but we know that the next man up has to perform and do his job."
Added linebacker Ryan Shazier: "We have one on the best D-line coaches in the world (defensive line coach/assistant head coach John Mitchell). He has those guys (reserves Mathews, L.T. Walton and Vince Williams) ready.
"The starters are the starters for a reason. But if Cam and Tuitt aren't out there we know those guys are going to step up at any moment when they're called and they're going to give us everything that they have."
Game action from Week 15 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
STAY THE COURSE:** Running back Le'Veon Bell averaged 4.1 yards per carry in the first half but he only ran the ball seven times and he only gained 29 yards.
Bell finished with 23 carries and 93 yards and an average of 4.0 yards per attempt.
"We stuck to it," Bell said of the running game. "We knew those guys were going to be tough (to run against). We stuck to the run, we started chunkin' them."
Guard Ramon Foster thought maintaining possession in the second half meant everything as far as the running game was concerned.
"We had a chance to stay on the field," he said. "We have to continue to stay on the field to get the run game going."
RAVENS WEEK: The Steelers were well aware in the aftermath of the Bengals game of the significance of this Sunday's rematch with the Ravens.
The Steelers can clinch the AFC North Division with a win.
"I'm ready for these guys," offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert said. "Great team, but this is what it all boils down to. Ravens vs. Steelers is classic. It doesn't get better than this."
Added Mitchell: "Everything we want is right in front of us. We get the game at home, AFC North football. They have guys, we have guys, it's going to be a great game. You don't want it easy. You never want it easy. You always want to take everything you get. I wouldn't have it any other way."
HE SAID IT: "Everybody that's grabbed it has had something unfortunate happen. I hate to say the Towel is cursed when you disrespect it, but you can't do that. That's too early in the game to be doing that type of stuff. He's a pro, I'm sure his coaches will talk to him." _ Foster on Bengals running back Jeremy Hill trying to rip a Terrible Towel after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter.