PITTSBURGH (AP) – Ben Roethlisberger threw for 259 yards and three touchdowns to offset a pair of interceptions and the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cincinnati Bengals 24-16 on Sunday.
DeAngelo Williams churned out 94 yards on a career-high 32 carries and added a 4-yard touchdown grab with 6:48 remaining to give the Steelers all the breathing room they would need. Tight ends Jesse James and Xavier Grimble also caught scoring passes from Roethlisberger as the Steelers (2-0) kept Cincinnati in check at rainy Heinz Field.
Andy Dalton passed for 366 yards and a touchdown but needed 31 completions to reach that total, working almost exclusively on dump offs to running backs and tight ends while Pittsburgh clamped down on star wide receiver A.J. Green, who had just two receptions for 38 yards.
The rematch of the Steelers’ ugly 18-16 win in the wild-card round in January was downright tame. The teams combined for just 10 penalties and only one personal foul, a marked departure from that chaotic night in Cincinnati nine months ago.
Pittsburgh controlled the tempo throughout and after Roethlisberger shook off a so-so first half in which he threw a pair of picks in the rain, the Steelers pulled away. Roethlisberger hit Sammie Coates with a pretty 53-yard strike to set up a 9-yard toss to James. The quarterback later used a 14-yard scramble – his longest run in three seasons – to set up a flip to Williams that put Pittsburgh up 24-9.
Dalton found Giovanni Bernard for a 25-yard touchdown with 3:25 left but each of Cincinnati’s last two drives ended in turnovers. Tyler Boyd fumbled after getting hit by James Harrison in Pittsburgh territory with 1:50 to play and Bernard’s lateral on the game’s final play ended up in the hands of Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward.
NO SHOW: Maybe it was the weather. Maybe it was the relatively conservative game plans or maybe it was just pretty solid defense. Whatever it was, the expected duel between superstar wide receivers Antonio Brown and A.J. Green never materialized .
Brown caught just four passes for 39 yards and even had a rare drop while running free in the middle of the field in the first half.
Green, guarded almost exclusively by Pittsburgh cornerback Ross Cockrell, struggled to find much room to move. The only impact play he made came on drawing a pass interference play against Cockrell that set up a Mike Nugent field goal.
SUPER SUBS: The Steelers made a rare splurge in free agency during the offseason, signing San Diego tight end Ladarius Green to a four-year, $20-million deal and tasking him with replacing retired Heath Miller. Green, however, has yet to practice with the team while recovering from ankle surgery and other issues.
No matter, Pittsburgh has made do – and then some – with James, Grimble and David Johnson.
The 6-foot-7 James remains an unpolished blocker but his height makes him a big target in the red zone. His leaping grab in the third quarter gave Pittsburgh a two-score lead, though one that only pulled him even with the lightly used Grimble. Grimble’s first career reception was a pretty 20-yard strike from Roethlisberger in which Grimble beat one-on-one coverage then stretched the ball across the goal line.
Bengals: Welcome Denver to Paul Brown Stadium in their home opener.
Steelers: Travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles.
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)