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Steelers fall to Bengals, 37-30

With Joe Mixon coming off a five-touchdown game in Cincinnati's last outing, the Steelers were obviously concerned about the Bengals' star running back.

As it turns out, they should have been more concerned with his backup, Samaje Perine.

Perine, the Bengals' third-down back, saw more playing time Sunday against the Steelers at Acrisure Stadium after Mixon was knocked out of the game with a concussion. And he took full advantage, scoring three receiving touchdowns as the Bengals knocked off the Steelers, 37-30.

Game action photos from the Steelers' Week 11 game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Acrisure Stadium

Perine, who had seven career touchdowns in his previous six seasons, entered Sunday's game with 18 receptions for 126 yards and one score. But you wouldn't have known that watching this game, as he hauled in four passes for 52 yards and also had 30 yards rushing on 11 carries.

That was enough to supplement the production of wide receiver Tee Higgins, who caught 9 passes for 148 yards with fellow star wideout Ja'Marr Chase sidelined for the Bengals (6-4).

That helped the Bengals string together a pair of 90-plus yard drives in the game.

"We didn't get off the field when we needed to. We didn't hold them to field goals," said Steelers linebacker Alex Highsmith. "We didn't make plays. We weren't executing and it showed. When you're not executing against a guy like Joe Burrow, he'll exploit it, and he did. We've got to be better."

The Steelers, who fell to 3-7 with the loss, weren't able to match that offensive production, though they had their best scoring day of the season, as Burrow completed 24 of 39 passes for 355 yards and four touchdowns for the Bengals despite throwing a pair of interceptions.

Kenny Pickett completed 25 of 42 passes for 265 yards and a touchdown, while Najee Harris had 90 yards on 20 carries and George Pickens had four catches for 83 yards, while Pa Freiermuth had eight receptions for 79 yards for the Steelers.

The Steelers took a 20-17 lead into the half, as Harris rushed for a touchdown and Pickett threw a scoring pass to Pickens in the second quarter.

The Bengals opened the scoring in the first half, getting a 45-yard field goal from Evan McPherson midway through the second quarter.

But the Steelers answered with a field goal drive of their own, getting a 42-yard field goal from Matthew Wright to tie the score at 3-3.

Perine then caught a screen pass from Burrow and got a convoy into the end zone from 29 yards out with 39 seconds remaining in the first quarter to give the Bengals a 10-3 lead.

But it was short-lived as the Steelers answered with a 56-yard drive set up by a good return by Steven Sims out over the 40. Harris finished things off with a 19-yard run around left end, hurdling safety Jessie Bates at the goal line to get into the end zone to tie the game at 10-10 early in the second quarter.

The Bengals answered with Perine's second touchdown catch, this one an 11-yard score as he ran through a tackle attempt by Robert Spillane at the 10 and got into the end zone for a 17-10 Cincinnati lead with 6:38 remaining in the half.

"I've got to make that play," said Spillane.

At that point, Burrow was 12 of 14 for 165 yards and two touchdowns, compiling a passer rating for 155.4.

The Steelers again answered, driving 65 yards to score with 1:47 remaining in the half on a 14-yard pass from Pickett to Pickens to tie the game at 17-17.

The Bengals moved the ball across midfield with just under a minute to play in the half, but Spillane got a hand on a Burrow pass and Levi Wallace intercepted the ball – his third of the season and second in two games.

Pickett directed a 44-yard field goal drive in the closing seconds of the half, hitting tight end Pat Freiermuth for gains of 8 and 27 yards, to get a 30-yard kick from Wright that gave the Steelers the lead.

"We were scoring. We were moving the ball. We were executing our game plan," said Harris. "We just came out in the second half not firing. That was on the people on the field, nobody else."

The Bengals regained the advantage, 24-20 with 7:02 remaining in the third quarter on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Burrow to Trenton Irwin. The Steelers went three-and-out on their next possession and things looked like they might be turning in Cincinnati's favor.

But on first down, T.J. Watt leaped into the air and intercepted a Burrow pass at the line of scrimmage, giving the Steelers the ball at the Cincinnati 21.

The Steelers, however, were unable to move the ball from there and settled for a 34-yard Wright field goal that trimmed Cincinnati's lead to 24-23 with 4:28 remaining in the third quarter.

The Bengals drove inside the Pittsburgh 35 on their ensuing possession, but Cam Heyward sacked Burrow on third down, forcing a 54-yard field goal attempt that McPherson slipped above the crossbar to give the Bengals a 27-23 lead with just under a minute to play in the third quarter.

But Burrow threw his third touchdown pass to Perine, this one from 6 yards out, then got a field goal from McPherson to go ahead 37-23. That capped off an 8-play, 93-yard drive.

"We've got them at the 5-yard line and they take a shot," said Highsmith. "Next thing, they're at the 30 and they go all the way down the field. It's mesmerizing. We can't let that happen. They kept scoring touchdowns. The execution was poor."

The Steelers scored on a 1-yard touchdown run by Harris with just under one minute remaining, but the Bengals recovered an onside kick attempt and ran out the clock.