Joe Mixon scored on a 4-yard run and dashed toward the stands in celebration of Cincinnati’s go-ahead touchdown. On the Steelers sideline, Ben Roethlisberger looked at the clock, saw there was 1:18 left, and told his linemen not to fret.
“They gave us too much time,” Big Ben said confidently.
Somehow, the Steelers never run out of time at Paul Brown Stadium.
Antonio Brown turned a short catch into a 31-yard touchdown with 10 seconds left Sunday, sending the Steelers to a 28-21 victory over the Bengals. They’ve now won seven straight against Cincinnati, a streak that includes highly improbable — and totally predictable — wins.
The Steelers (3-2-1) sure saw it coming.
“On the sideline before I went out, I told the guys, ‘This is what legacies are made of for all of us. Let’s go take care of business,'” Roethlisberger said.
On the decisive play, Roethlisberger saw the Bengals (4-2) were set for an all-out blitz with no safeties guarding the end zone. He knew it would be a touchdown if he got the ball quickly to Brown, who caught it in stride, cut behind Justin Hunter’s block and ran untouched to the end zone.
“We’ve been in that situation a lot, and I knew we were going to do it,” said Brown, who had five catches for 105 yards.
During their seven-game winning streak, the Steelers have pulled them out at Paul Brown Stadium with 14 seconds, no seconds, and 10 seconds to go.
They rallied to win a first-round playoff game in 2015 — aided by Vontaze Burfict hitting Brown in the head for a costly penalty — on Chris Boswell’s field goal with 14 seconds left. Last December, they overcame a 17-point deficit and won on Boswell’s field goal as time ran out.
Now, this stunner.
“We’re better than them,” Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick insisted. “They’re not better than us.”
The statistics say otherwise. The Steelers have won 10 of 11 and 15 of 18 in the lopsided series.
Some takeaways from Paul Brown Stadium:
IT’S A RACE
The Bengals got an early cushion in the division by knocking off the Ravens and opening 4-1, their best start since they won the division in 2015. The Steelers got off to a ragged start at 1-2-1, but back-to-back wins over the Falcons and Bengals have evened up the division. The Bengals finish the season at Heinz Field.
The Steelers are 16-2 at Paul Brown Stadium during Marvin Lewis’ 16 seasons as the Bengals’ head coach, including playoff victories in 2005 and 2015. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is 20-5 against the Bengals. Andy Dalton is 3-12 against the Steelers, missing that 2015 playoff meltdown with a broken thumb.
James Conner ran for 111 yards and a pair of touchdowns, his second straight 100-yard game. Conner joined Hall of Famers Franco Harris (1976) and Jerome Bettis (2004) as the only Steelers to run for seven touchdowns in the first six games of a season, excelling as Le’Veon Bell’s replacement. Bell reportedly will end his holdout this week during Pittsburgh’s bye.
“What a great game,” Roethlisberger said. “Now I know it’s his last game for us, so we’re glad he did well in his last one.”
Roethlisberger laughed, clarifying that he was going entirely off media reports and speculation about what happens when Bell returns.
After getting shredded in September, the Steelers’ defense has come around in the last two games. It got six sacks in a 41-17 win over the Falcons and sacked Dalton three times. Pittsburgh limited the Bengals to 123 yards in the second half.
In his second game back from his latest NFL suspension, Burfict was at the center of the riled-up rivalry. He exchanged words with Roethlisberger 3 minutes into the game. A teammate pushed him away from Conner to help the linebacker avoid a penalty after a touchdown run. In the third quarter, Burfict hit Brown in the head as he was being tackled, but avoided a penalty. The NFL will review the play. In the locker room after the game, Burfict yelled at a reporter who asked another Bengals player about the hit on Brown.
“A nasty hit,” Brown said.
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