CINCINNATI (AP) -- Jerome Bettis and Pittsburgh's defense made
quite a posse.
Bettis ran for 129 yards and the Steelers' blitzing defense
created havoc Sunday, setting up a 19-14 victory over the
Cincinnati Bengals that kept the NFL's longest winning streak
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played like a rookie, so the
32-year-old running back and the old-style defense bailed him out
in Pittsburgh's eighth straight win. The Steelers are 9-1 for the
first time since 1978, when they won their third Super Bowl in five
"Everybody expects us to be flawless," Bettis said.
"Sometimes you're not going to have your best game. That's when
you have to find a way to win."
They took an old, familiar path: run the ball and let the
defense do the rest, taking the pressure off the kid quarterback.
Roethlisberger has earned comparisons to Terry Bradshaw during
his remarkable introductory season with eight starts, all wins.
This time, he looked much more like a green rookie than
The Bengals (4-6) came at him from all sides, had a season-high
seven sacks and forced him to make poor decisions. Three times, he
scuttled scoring chances by taking sacks, grounding the ball or
"On a lot of the sacks, I take the blame," said
Roethlisberger, who was 15-of-21 for 138 yards, but lost 54 yards
on sacks. "I wasn't flustered, just disappointed in my play. But
it's a sign of a good team when you can win when you don't play
With Duce Staley sidelined a third straight game because of a
sore hamstring, Bettis came through with his third straight
triple-digit game. He repeatedly bowled over tacklers during his
11th 100-yard performance against the Bengals, and he moved ahead
of Tony Dorsett for fifth place on the NFL's career rushing list.
Bettis decided to stay in Pittsburgh as a backup, opening the
season as a designated goal-line runner. On Sunday, he was the
whole show -- one opponents have seen many times before.
"It reminds me of Steeler football, the way we've played since
I've been here," said Bettis, in his ninth season with Pittsburgh.
"That's important. We've got to remain ourselves. We've got an
identity and we've got to stick to it."
After Roethlisberger put the Steelers up 17-14 with an 8-yard
touchdown pass to Dan Kreider in the third quarter, the defense did
the rest, stifling Carson Palmer's passing and Cincinnati's playoff
Linebacker James Farrior had a 14-yard interception return that
blunted the Bengals' momentum in the first half.
In the second half, Cincinnati's offense managed only 42 yards
and two first downs. Everything imploded: Cincinnati had seven
second-half penalties for 75 yards.
The clinching play came with 2:38 left and Palmer under heavy
pressure in his end zone. He threw the ball away, drawing a
grounding call and a safety. Fans tossed three beer bottles onto
the field in disgust.
Afterward, coach Marvin Lewis uncharacteristically screamed at
his team in the locker room.
"This is the angriest I've been," said Lewis, who always tries
to accentuate the positive. "We're not going to accept mediocrity.
If we accept getting close, if we accept leading in the first half,
we're not going to get any better. We're not going to accept
With Pittsburgh out of sync in the first half, the Bengals did a
Chad Johnson made good on his promise of a new touchdown
celebration, an end-zone boogie after his acrobatic 36-yard catch.
Kelley Washington also swayed and squirmed in the end zone after
his 19-yard touchdown put Cincinnati up 14-10.
In no time, the dancing ended and Lewis' screaming began.
"Everybody feels like that," said Palmer, who was 13-of-25 for
165 yards. "Everybody's frustrated. It makes everybody feel the
way Marvin feels. Everybody knows he's right."
Steelers WR Plaxico Burress pulled his left hamstring in
the second quarter. "He didn't hear it pop, so that's a good
thing," coach Bill Cowher said. Cowher wouldn't speculate on
whether he'll be sidelined. ... LB Kendrell Bell aggravated a groin
injury. "It could be a few weeks," Cowher said. ... DE Brett
Keisel also hurt his hamstring. ... With CB Deltha O'Neal sidelined
by an elbow injury, second-round pick Keiwan Ratliff made his first
start for the Bengals. ... Bettis has 12,863 career yards. It was
his 57th career 100-yard game.
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