Bengals smoke Steelers, sweep season series

Cincinnati routs Pittsburgh 41-10

CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals put Joe Mixon to work Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he carried them to one of their most lopsided wins in series history.

Mixon exploded for a career-high 165 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries, the defense followed suit with another dominant performance that included three turnovers, and the Bengals cruised to a 41-10 win over the AFC North rival Steelers in front of 63,238 fans at Paul Brown Stadium.

The win completes the season sweep for the Bengals (7-4), marking their third straight win against the Steelers (5-5-1) and giving them their largest margin of victory in the series since rolling to a win of the same score in September 1989. Cincinnati’s most lopsided win was a 42-7 victory in 1988.

Cincinnati established the run from the start, as Mixon carried the ball seven times for 49 yards on the opening drive to set up Joe Burrow’s 8-yard scramble and dive into the end zone for the first lead of the game. The Bengals went on to score points on all but one drive in the first half to take a 31-3 lead into the break, and the Steelers didn’t reach the end zone until the final three minutes of the game.

Former Steelers cornerback Mike Hilton picked off Ben Roethlisberger and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown to score the final points of the first half with 30 seconds left on the clock.

Mixon topped the 100-yard mark before the two-minute warning to end the first half, on the drive he got his first touchdown of the day to extend his scoring streak to eight straight games. That gave the Bengals a 24-3 lead with 2:43 left in the second quarter, and he added another 1-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter after Evan McPherson tacked on a 51-yard field goal for the only points of the third quarter.

While the Bengals established their running game early to get the offense moving, the defense picked up where it left off last week against Las Vegas and showed their early-season success against the Steelers was no fluke. Pittsburgh’s only touchdown came with 2:59 left when Roethlisberger connected with Pat Freiermuth on a 15-yard pass.

Cornerback Eli Apple picked off Roethlisberger’s back-shoulder pass intended for Chase Claypool on the Steelers’ first drive and returned 50 yards to the 5-yard line for his second straight game with an interception. The Bengals couldn’t take advantage of the goal-to-go situation, as Burrow took a sack for a 12-yard loss on third down, but they extended the lead on a 31-yard field goal from McPherson.

After Roethlisberger threw a 41-yard pass to Claypool on the next drive, the Bengals minimized the damage to a 40-yard field goal from Chris Boswell. The offense then responded with another touchdown drive, capped by a 32-yard catch from Tee Higgins, who won a jump ball in the end zone over Steelers cornerback James Pierre. Pierre was starting in place of injured cornerback Joe Haden.

The Steelers crossed midfield on the ensuing drive but ended up punting to set up a 14-play, 84-yard touchdown drive on which Mixon originally thought he had scored on an eight-yard run only to find out upon review that he was just shy of the goal line. He punched it in on the next play for a 1-yard touchdown.

Cincinnati forced a three-and-out the next possession, but safety Minkah Fitzpatrick gave Pittsburgh the ball back by intercepting Burrow on a deep ball toward the end zone. A scuffle broke out after T.J. Watt took Burrow to the ground on the return, but no penalties were called. That’s when Hilton stepped up the next play with his interception for what seemed to be the dagger just before halftime.

Burrow completed 20 of 24 passes for 190 yards and one touchdown with one interception and was replaced midway through the fourth quarter. Backup Brandon Allen threw one incomplete pass. Higgins finished with 114 yards on six catches to lead the receivers.

Roethlisberger finished with 263 yards passing and one touchdown with two interceptions, and Najee Harris managed just 23 yards rushing.

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