The Steelers got outside linebacker T.J. Watt, free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and defensive tackle Isaiahh Loudermilk back into the lineup on Sunday afternoon in Cincinnati but were still outmanned.
The Bengals scored the first four times they got their hands on the ball, added another touchdown on a pick-six and built a 31-3 lead just prior to halftime on the way to a 41-10 victory at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Steelers fell to 0-2-1 in the wake of their four-game winning streak and 5-5-1 overall.
The Bengals improved to 7-4.
Cincinnati had a 19:14-10:46 time of possession advantage in the first half.
The Bengals ran 39 offensive plays to the Steelers' 23 in the first two quarters.
Game action photos from the Steelers' Week 12 game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium
Running back Joe Mixon carried 20 times for 117 yards (a 5.9 average) and a touchdown, and quarterback Joe Burrow completed 14 of 16 passes for 154 yards, with one touchdown and one interception, in the first 30 minutes.
Burrow was relieved by Brandon Allen early in the fourth quarter after completing 20 of 24 passes for 191 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Mixon's day also ended early after carrying 28 times for 165 yards (a 5.9 average) and two scores.
The Bengals took advantage of a strip-sack of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger by defensive end Trey Hendrickson and a fumble recovery by defensive end Sam Hubbard and increased their lead to 31 late in the third quarter.
Kicker Evan McPherson's 51-yard field goal made it Bengals 34, Steelers 3 with 2:35 left in the third.
Mixon's second touchdown run of the afternoon, a 1-yard effort that capped a five-play, 65-yard drive in 2:57, and a McPherson's extra point upped the Bengals' lead to 41-3 with 13:10 left in the fourth.
The onslaught began with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in 5:31 after Cincinnati received the opening kickoff.
Burrow completed the march with an 8-yard scramble for a touchdown. The drive included two defensive penalties against the Steelers (pass interference against cornerback Cam Sutton, which was accepted, and offside against inside linebacker Devon Bush, which was declined). McPherson's extra point gave the Bengals a 7-0 lead with 9:29 left in the first quarter.
The Bengals got the ball back again on an interception by cornerback Eli Apple and 50-yard return to the Steelers' 5-yard line.
It was the first interception thrown by Roethlisberger since the Steelers' 27-17 loss on Oct. 3 at Green Bay.
The defense stiffened following the turnover and defensive end Chris Wormley sacked Burrow for a loss of 12 on third-and-goal from the Steelers' 1.
The Bengals settled for a 31-yard field goal by McPherson and a 10-0 lead with 6:04 left in the opening quarter.
Cincinnati's third possession went 75 yards on six plays in 3:02 and concluded with a 32-yard touchdown pass from Burrow to wide receiver Tee Higgins. McPherson's extra point increased Cincinnati's advantage to 17-3 with 14:15 left in the second quarter.
The Bengals went 84 yards on 14 plays in 7:35 on their fourth possession and scored their third touchdown, this one on a 1-yard run by Mixon. The Bengals converted a third-and-12 at the outset of the drive on a 16-yard pass from Burrow to Higgins and a third-and-5 that extended the possession on a 7-yard toss from Burrow to tight end C.J. Uzomah.
McPherson's extra point made it 24-3 Bengals with 2:43 to play before the break.
The Steelers' defense came up with its first stop with 37 seconds left in the first half on Fitzpatrick's first interception of the season and 18-yard return to the Steelers' 21.
But Roethlisberger was intercepted for the second time on the following snap, and cornerback Mike Hilton returned this one 24 yards for a touchdown.
McPherson's extra point pushed the Bengals' lead to 28 at 31-3 with 30 seconds left until the intermission.
The Steelers' lone scoring drive in the first half covered 53 yards on eight plays in 3:44 on their second possession.
Kicker Chris Boswell's 40-yard field goal sliced the Bengals' lead to 10-3 with 2:17 left in the first.
The march was jump-started on a 41-yard completion from Roethlisberger to wide receiver Chase Claypool on the first play of the possession from the Steelers' 25.
Roethlisberger found tight end Pat Freiermuth for a 15-yard touchdown with 2:59 left in regulation. The nine-play, 69-yard drive in 3:12 was capped by Freiermuth's sixth touchdown reception of the season and fifth in his last five games.
Boswell's extra point accounted for the final margin.
The Steelers lost inside linebacker Robert Spillane (knee) in the second quarter.