CINCINNATI – Running back Giovani Bernard scored his first two NFL touchdowns, one of them on a short pass that he turned into a 27-yard score, and the Cincinnati Bengals beat Pittsburgh 20-10 on Monday night, extending the Steelers’ early-season misery.
The second-round draft pick had a 7-yard touchdown run in the first half before turning a short pass from Andy Dalton into a third-quarter score – a preview of what the Bengals (1-1) could become with a pass-catching threat out of the backfield.
First-round pick Tyler Eifert, a former Notre Dame and Bishop Dwenger standout, also had a big play, making a 61-yard catch that set up Bernard’s touchdown run. The Steelers fell to 0-2 for the first time since 2002. An injury-depleted offense couldn’t put drives together consistently, allowing the Bengals to wear down their defense.
The rookies provided the bright spots for the Bengals, who all but abandoned the run and left the game in Dalton’s hands. He had another up-and-down showing against a defense that has given him fits with its blitzes.
Dalton repeatedly missed open receivers while going 25 of 45 for 280 yards.
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.
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.
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 some of the Bengals’ best moments.
Eifert got open between cornerback Ike Taylor and safety Ryan Clark for his 61-yard catch. Bernard finished the long drive with a 7-yard 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. Trouble was, Dalton couldn’t get them the ball consistently.
The third-year quarterback was coming off the most accurate game of his career, completing 78.7 percent of his throws during a 24-21 loss at Chicago Pittsburgh always gives him a rough time.