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Rookie power Bengals past struggling Steelers

The SportsXchange

CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals used their first two draft choices this year on players they expected would add some spark to their offense.

Tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Giovani Bernard made the plan look wise Monday night.

Bernard scored the first two touchdowns of his career, one rushing and one receiving, while Eifert was instrumental as a receiver and blocker in Cincinnati's 20-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium.

One week after managing just 195 yards of offense in a 16-9 loss against Tennessee, Pittsburgh was limited to 278 yards by Cincinnati. The Steelers (0-2) didn't manage a first down on seven of their first 10 possessions, and the Bengals (1-1) forced two turnovers inside the red zone, including an interception by safety Reggie Nelson with 4:55 left in the game at the Cincinnati 13.

Pittsburgh lost its opening two games for the first time since 2002.

"Very frustrating," Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "We've got a long way to go. We're going to let this sink in for a day or two and then get ready for Chicago."

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton completed 25 of 45 passes for 280 yards and one touchdown, but it was the running game that turned the game Cincinnati's way in the second half.

Dalton attempted 32 passes in the first half as the Bengals ran the ball just 10 times for 53 yards. Cincinnati ran the ball 24 times in the second half as it got the lead and then ran time off the clock. The Bengals finished the game with 407 total yards, including 127 yards on 34 carries.

Bernard gave the Bengals a 17-10 lead with 6:08 left in the third quarter when he took a short dump pass from Dalton and turned it into a 27-yard touchdown. It was the first reception of 20-plus yards for a Cincinnati running back since Nov. 20, 2011, when Brian Leonard had a 37-yard reception at Baltimore. Bernard finished with 65 total yards and two TDs on nine touches.

"He did the things that we expect him to continue to do," Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis said. "He had a great catch-and-run. He had a big run earlier. And then Bennie (BenJarvus Green-Ellis) comes back and finishes it off. So it was a good job today by the two of them."

Green-Ellis ran 22 times for 75 yards, both game-high totals.

Mike Nugent's 25-yard field goal with 7:51 remaining in the game capped a 14-play, 57-yard drive that took 6:51 off the clock and gave Cincinnati a two-possession lead.

Roethlisberger finished 20-for-37 for 251 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The Bengals sacked him twice.

The game was tied 10-10 at halftime.

Special teams helped the Steelers take a 3-0 lead in the opening five minutes. Antonio Brown had a 40-yard punt return to set the Steelers up at the Cincinnati 34-yard line. The Steelers picked up just 8 yards and had to settle for Shaun Suisham's 44-yard field goal with 10:42 left in the first quarter.

The Steelers were driving for more points when Cincinnati cornerback Adam Jones stripped the ball away from tight end David Paulson inside the Cincinnati 20 and recovered the ball at the 13. Paulson was originally ruled to have been down by contact, but Lewis challenged the play, and the call was reversed.

"When you get those kinds of plays -- particularly on the road -- they aren't going to allow you to get up there and snap it quick," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. "Their replay booth is going to work in conjunction with the sideline to make sure they get the necessary looks. The bottom line is that the ball was on the ground."

Cincinnati took the ball and went 87 yards in five plays, capped off by a 7-yard touchdown run by Bernard with 57 seconds remaining in the first quarter for a 7-3 lead. Eifert, the team's top draft choice this year, had a 61-yard reception to set up the score. He finished with three catches for 66 yards in the game.

Nugent's 41-yard field goal with 13:16 remaining in the second quarter pushed Cincinnati's lead to 10-3.

Pittsburgh tied the score on a 1-yard pass by Roethlisberger to rookie Derek Moye with 1:54 left in the first half. Roethlisberger completed passes of 19 and 43 yards to Emmanuel Sanders on the 65-yard drive.

NOTES: The Bengals waived S Jeromy Miles on Monday and signed LB J.K. Schaffer from the practice squad. ... Pittsburgh TE Heath Miller was inactive. ... RB Felix Jones started at running back for the Steelers. Isaac Redman was evaluated for concussion symptoms after getting hit on opening kickoff. He returned in the second quarter. Redman finished with three carries for 4 yards, while Jones had 10 caries for 37 yards. ... Pittsburgh scored in the final two minutes of the first half against Cincinnati for the eighth consecutive meeting. ... Bengals LT Andrew Whitworth started after missing all of preseason and last week's opening game at Chicago following two offseason knee surgeries. He split time with Anthony Collins, who started against the Bears. ... After forcing a three-and-out on Pittsburgh's first drive of the game, Cincinnati's defense has not allowed a touchdown on the opponent's opening possession in 20 consecutive games.
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