Steelers get 33-20 win over Bengals, who lose QB Dalton

Dec 13, 2015 6:05 PM by Associated Press

CINCINNATI (AP) - With a chance to clinch the division at home, the Bengals lost their quarterback and got roughed up for the first time all season.

Andy Dalton broke his right thumb while making a tackle on his interception, and the Pittsburgh Steelers roughed up backup AJ McCarron while pulling away to a 33-20 victory on Sunday that left the AFC North up for grabs.

The Steelers (8-5) rumbled with the Bengals during pregame warmups and then led the whole way, sending Cincinnati (10-3) to its first lopsided loss of the season.

William Gay returned one of McCarron's passes 23 yards for a touchdown, and Ben Roethlisberger had another good day as Pittsburgh's resurgent offense kept rolling. Pittsburgh has scored 30 points in five straight games, a franchise record.

The game - and potentially Cincinnati's season - turned on one interception. Stephon Truitt picked off Dalton's shovel pass in the first quarter, and Dalton broke his right thumb while making the tackle.

He will see a specialist on Monday and get a better idea how many weeks he will miss. Dalton wore a black cast on the hand.

"Mentally I'm fine," Dalton said. "It's unfortunate it happened at this point in the season. I'm doing all right. There are a lot of people who are way worse off than I am."

Dalton has been one of the NFL's most durable quarterbacks, missing only half a game during his five seasons because of injury. He was leading the league in passer rating heading into the game.

Now, the Bengals' chances are in the hands of a second-year quarterback from Alabama who missed all of his rookie season with a sore passing shoulder. McCarron threw a 66-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green, who ran past cornerback Antwon Blake, but also threw a floating sideline pass that Gay returned for a touchdown and a 23-7 lead early in the second half.

McCarron, who had thrown only four passes in a mop-up role before Sunday, finished 22 of 32 for 280 yards with two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions that led to Steelers touchdowns.

The Bengals had the fewest injured players in the league heading into the game, but also lost tight end Tyler Eifert to a concussion in the first half. Eifert was leading the NFL in touchdown catches.

The Steelers have recovered from significant losses of their own - Roethlisberger missing time with a sprained knee, running back Le'Veon Bell out for the season with a knee injury - and hit their stride in the last five games.

Roethlisberger has been at his best. He went 30 of 39 for 282 yards with an interception as the Steelers protected a big lead in the second half. DeAngelo Williams ran for a pair of touchdowns, and Chris Boswell made field goals from 42, 47, 45 and 31 yards.

The Steelers had looked forward to the rematch in Cincinnati since the Bengals' 16-10 victory in Pittsburgh on Nov. 1, one that ended with trash talking and tough feelings. The dislike bubbled out during warmups when players from both teams got into a brief shouting-and-shoving match at midfield.

Also, Bengals cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones - who was inactive with a foot injury - sent a profane tweet about Pittsburgh pregame.

By the fourth quarter, all the drama was gone. Bengals fans headed for the exits after Robert Golden picked off McCarron with 5:14 to go, leaving Steelers fans to twirl their Terrible Towels in celebration as Pittsburgh scored a clinching touchdown.


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