The Steelers' losing streak has reached three consecutive games and the AFC North Division championship remains up for grabs after Monday night's 27-17 loss in Cincinnati.
The Steelers fell to 11-3.
The Bengals improved to 3-10-1.
"We just didn't get the job done," defensive tackle Cam Heyward lamented. "It just (ticks) me off that we didn't finish."
The Steelers would have clinched the division championship with a victory.
They have failed to score at least 20 points in four consecutive games.
"Just not good enough," head coach Mike Tomlin said. "The performance speaks for itself.
"We're not a good football group right now."
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger became the seventh player in NFL history to reach 60,000 career passing yards and the sixth to achieve 5,000 career completions.
His 20-for-38 night for 170 yards, with one touchdown and one interception, left him with 60,007 passing yards and 5,016 completions.
"The disconnect was probably me just not making it happen," Roethlisberger said. "I just wasn't good enough.
"Right now it doesn't feel like there are many positives. I'm not consistent enough."
The Steelers trailed 17-0 and 24-10 but got back to within a touchdown at 24-17 on running back Benny Snell's 1-yard plunge and kicker Chris Boswell's extra point with 5:32 left in the fourth quarter. The 12-play, 75-yard drive in 5:49 was extended by a pass interference penalty against cornerback William Jackson III on fourth-and-4 from the Cincinnati 13-yard line. Snell scored on the next play.
The defense forced a punt on Cincinnati's subsequent possession after free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick tackled quarterback Ryan Finley for a 1-yard loss on a keeper on third-and-3 from the Cincinnati 42-yard line.
The offense took over at the Steelers' 24 with 2:17 left in regulation but turned the ball back over to the Bengals following four consecutive incompletions.
Bengals kicker Austin Seibert booted a 33-yard field goal with 12 seconds left that established the final margin.
The Bengals re-established a two-score lead at 24-10 on a 23-yard keeper by Finley and Seibert's extra point with 11:21 left in the fourth quarter. Cincinnati's scoring drive covered 80 yards in nine plays in 5:54, including 65 yards on eight rushing attempts.
Game action photos from the Steelers' Week 15 game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium
The Bengals finished with 152 yards and two touchdowns on 41 carries (a 3.7 average per carry), including 47 on 10 attempts by Finley.
The Steelers also averaged 3.7 yards per carry with 86 yards on 23 attempts, including 84 on 18 rushes by Snell.
The Steelers out-gained the Bengals, 244-230, but turned the ball over three times.
The Bengals held the ball for 32:03 to the Steelers' 27:57 and didn't turn the ball over.
It took until the third quarter for the Steelers to get onto the scoreboard.
Their first possession of the second half ended on a 37-yard flanker screen from Roethlisberger to wide receiver Chase Claypool and then a 23-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to wide receiver Diontae Johnson on successive snaps, the third and fourth plays of a four-play, 67-yard march. Boswell's extra point drew the Steelers to within 17-7 with 12:07 left in the third.
The next time they got their hands on the ball the Steelers made it a one-score game again on a 25-yard Boswell field goal that cut Cincinnati's lead to 17-10 with 5:27 left in the third. The 10-play, 67-yard drive in 5:00 included bursts of 29 and 13 yards by Snell.
The Steelers went to the locker room at halftime trailing, 17-0.
The Bengals struck first on a 34-yard field goal by Seibert with 5:12 left in the first quarter.
Cincinnati gained possession at the Steelers' 20 after Roethlisberger fumbled a snap and was then run into by pulling guard David DeCastro, and linebacker Josh Bynes recovered. The Bengals managed one first down but settled for a field goal after a sack of Finley by outside linebacker T.J. Watt on third-and-goal from the Steelers' 5.
Another turnover led to seven more points for the Bengals.
A fumble by wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, initially ruled an incompletion but challenged and reversed by replay review into a catch, fumble and recovery by linebacker Jordan Evans, set Cincinnati up at the Steelers' 38 with 49 seconds left in the first. A seven-play, 38-yard drive in 3:44 followed and was capped off by running back Giovani Bernard's 4-yard burst into the end zone. Seibert's extra point upped Cincinnati's advantage to 10-0 with 12:05 left in the second quarter.
Another Roethlisberger turnover, this one an interception by cornerback Mackensie Alexander on a pass intended for Smith-Schuster, a 21-yard return and a 15-yard personal foul penalty against offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor, gave the Bengals the ball at the Steelers' 26. Three plays later Finley found Bernard for a 14-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Seibert's PAT made in 17-0 Cincinnati with 4:20 left in the first half.
The Steelers lost fullback Derek Watt (concussion) and tight end Eric Ebron (back) in the first half.