Published September 16, 2013
CINCINNATI – Ben Roethlisberger got Pittsburgh's offense moving late in the second quarter, completing all five of his passes on a touchdown drive that pulled the Steelers into a 10-all tie with the Cincinnati Bengals at halftime Monday night.
Penned up for most of the half, Roethlisberger finally found his touch by completing passes of 19 and 43 yards to Emmanuel Sanders. His 1-yard throw to Derek Moye — caught over Leon Hall — tied it with 1:54 left in the half.
Before that drive, Roethlisberger was only 4 of 11 for 65 yards in an offense still trying to find itself.
Shaun Suisham kicked a 44-yard field goal, and the Steelers had a chance to add to it. But another mistake — and they've had a lot of those already — provided the game's first turning point.
Pinned at their 3-yard line after a punt, the Steelers drove into scoring position. Roethlisberger completed a 34-yard pass to tight end David Paulson, who fumbled the ball as he was tackled. Adam "Pacman" Jones forced the fumble and recovered it at the Cincinnati 13-yard line.
That led to the Bengals' best moments.
First-round pick Tyler Eifert got open between cornerback Ike Taylor and safety Ryan Clark for a 61-yard catch. Second-round pick Giovani Bernard finished the long drive with a 7-yard touchdown run, his first in the NFL, for the early lead.
With their top draft picks making big plays, the Bengals showed a new side to an offense that has historically struggled against the Steelers. They kept throwing it for the rest of the half without getting the same results.
Andy Dalton was coming off the most accurate game of his career, completing 78.7 percent of his throws during a 24-21 loss at Chicago. He was erratic on Monday night against a defense that has given him fits with its blitzes.
Dalton was 16 of 32 for 165 yards in the half, only 14 attempts short of his career high for a game. The Bengals ran it only 10 times, deciding the air was the way to go.
The Steelers were trying to avoid their first 0-2 start since 2002 and hold onto their standing as one of the AFC North's heavyweights. The Bengals, only 9-20 on Monday nights, were trying to show they're ready to elbow ahead of them.
The most intriguing question: Could Steeler-turned-Bengal James Harrison leave a mark on Pittsburgh's mess of an offense?
The linebacker left Pittsburgh after last season when they couldn't agree on a restricted deal. The former NFL defensive player of the year took his scowl 300 miles down the Ohio River to a team that's trying to supplant the Steelers in the AFC North.
So, the capacity crowd at Paul Brown Stadium — which included a smattering of Terrible Towel wavers — settled in to watch Harrison chase Roethlisberger for the first time since their college days in the Mid-American Conference.
They kept a safe distance in the half.
The Steelers wanted to get their offense moving after a horrid opener. They ran for only 32 yards and Roethlisberger was sacked five times during a 16-9 loss to Tennessee at Heinz Field. Worse, the Steelers lost Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey for the rest of the season with a torn knee ligament. Fernando Velasco, signed a week earlier, started in his place on Monday.
The Bengals were coming off that loss at Chicago that saw them play impressively for three quarters, then fall apart at the end, losing because of penalties and turnovers. One of the NFL's top defenses failed to get a sack, a particular disappointment.
Carlos Dunlap and Domata Peko dropped Roethlisberger on the Steelers' second possession, but it was the only time they got to him. Roethlisberger was 9 of 16 for 130 yards at the half.
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