By Teresa Varley
The Steelers jumped out to an early lead over the Bengals and never looked back, coming away with a 38-10 win in Cincinnati. The victory improves the Steelers record to 5-1 and keeps them in control in the AFC North, while the loss drops the Bengals to 0-7.
"It was a great win for our team today," said head coach Mike Tomlin. "I thought that we played hard and we played fast. We are glad to get a win."
Mewelde Moore, who started his second game for the injured Willie Parker, recorded his first 100-yard game of the season with 20 carries for 120 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Moore added five receptions for 14 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 17 of 28 for 216 yards with two touchdown passes.
"We just gave him a game ball," said Tomlin. "He has become a locker room favorite. This guy is delivering time and time again with his legs, with his hands. He is doing a nice job. He is a pro, he prepares himself."
A stingy Steelers defense sacked Bengals quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick seven times, with LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison and Lawrence Timmons recording two each.
The Steelers scored first thanks to a strong drive led by Roethlisberger. The drive started off shaky when Roethlisberger fumbled the snap for a two-yard loss. On second down he went to Heath Miller, who came up with a six-yard reception. Hines Ward pulled in a short catch and then made some moves on the Bengals defenders for a 29-yard catch and run to the Bengals 43-yard line.
Matt Spaeth added a six-yard grab and Nate Washington got a first-down on an end-around for six more yards. Roethlisberger went deep to Santonio Holmes who took it to the two-yard line for a 32-yard gain. Mewelde Moore became the fifth receiver to make a catch on the drive when he took a short pass into the end zone for a two-yard touchdown to give the Steelers a 7-0 lead.
The defense shut down the Bengals on their opening drive, allowing just four yards before forcing a punt on a three-and-out.
Moore got the bulk of the work for the offense on the ensuing drive, but they weren't able to get anything rolling and had to give the ball up on a punt.
The defense came on even stronger when the Bengals got the ball back. Harrison got in the back field and disrupted Fitzpatrick as he was set to hand off to T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Fitzpatrick fumbled, but Houshmandzadeh recovered and lost three yards on the end around. Cedric Benson got eight yards up the middle, but that would be it for the Bengals offense. Punter Kyle Larsen didn't do anything to help his team as his punt traveled just 15 yards, giving the Steelers the ball at the Bengals 30-yard line.
Moore got the offense in scoring position with a three-yard run and added a 16-yard carry to the three-yard line. Three incomplete passes, two to Ward and one to Miller, kept the Steelers out of the end zone, but the reliable Jeff Reed came on for a 21-yard field goal to extend the lead to 10-0 in the first quarter.
The Steelers continued to stymie an ineffective Bengals offense. Harrison sacked Fitzpatrick for a seven-yard loss on first down and they kept the pressure on, not allowing the Bengals to go anywhere and forcing yet another punt.
It was more back-and-forth with neither offense able to get much production on their next drives as they exchanged punts and the Bengals went three-and-out for the fifth consecutive drive.
Things got rolling again for the Steelers offense with Holmes pulling in back-to-back receptions for 15 and 16 yards to move the offense comfortably into Bengals territory at the 33-yard line. They stalled there, though. Roethlisberger's pass for Moore was tipped at the line of scrimmage and then Moore was knocked for a four-yard loss. On third-and-14 Roethlisberger was unable to connect with Miller and Mitch Berger came on for his fourth punt of the day.
The Bengals offense started to click when Fitzpatrick hit Chad Johnson for a four-yard gain and Benson converted the Bengals first first down of the game with a four-yard carry with just under five minutes to play in the half. The Bengals steadily moved the down the field, mixing the run and pass with Chris Henry, Houshmandzadeh and Johnson coming up with a key receptions. Fitzpatrick capped the 14-play, 92-yard yard drive with a five-yard touchdown pass to Johnson cut the lead to 10-7 going into halftime.
In the second half the Bengals came out looking to keep the momentum going but the Steelers weren't having any parts of it as Harrison sacked Fitzpatrick for a 14-yard loss to put an end to their early drive.
It was back to work for the Steelers offense and they made it count. Moore got the call and rattled off a 24-yard run, added a five-yard reception and then went for another six yards on the ground to the Bengals 20-yard line. Moore was able to finish off the drive with his first touchdown run of the season, a 13-yarder which extended the Steelers lead to 17-7.
The Bengals bounced right back with big completions to Benson and Houshmandzadeh for to give them great field position at the Steelers 23-yard line. After a few short gains Fitzpatrick converted on fourth-and-one with a two-yard quarterback sneak. The defense tightened the reins and kept the Bengals out of the end zone, forcing them to settle for a Dave Rayner 26-yard field goal to move back within a touchdown at 17-10.
After exchanging possessions it was time for the Steelers to break things open. They started at their own nine-yard line and Moore quickly got them out of the hole with a 16-yard carry. The big plays continued when Roethlisberger hit Holmes for a 17-yard gain to the 45-yard line and then Moore took it to midfield with a five-yard carry. Roethlisberger went for broke and hit Washington in stride for a 50-yard touchdown to give the Steelers a more comfortable 24-10 lead.
The defense stopped the Bengals and it was time to close the door on the Bengals. A pass interference call gave the black and gold the ball on the 14-yard line. It was all Moore, who had two six yard carries and then scored his third touchdown of the day on a two-yard run for a 31-10 lead.
Woodley sacked Fitzpatrick on the next drive, forcing a fumble that Woodley recovered. It was then time to give the starters a rest as Byron Leftwich came in at quarterback and substitutions were plentiful. The Steelers didn't ease up as Leftwich led them on another scoring drive, hitting Ward for a 16-yard touchdown and a convincing 38-10 win.