PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger’s return wasn’t enough to prevent the Bengals from getting off to their best start in franchise history.
Andy Dalton threw a touchdown pass with 2:57 to go, and the Bengals picked off Roethlisberger twice in the fourth quarter while rallying for a 16-10 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday that kept them unbeaten and in command of the AFC North.
The Bengals are 7-0 for the first time in their history and have a comfortable lead in their division.
The defending AFC North champion Steelers (4-4) hoped that Roethlisberger’s return after missing four games with a sprained knee would kick-start them. After leading most of the game, they fall apart in the closing minutes.
Shawn Williams diving sideline interception at the Pittsburgh 45-yard line set up Dalton’s 9-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green, who had another big game against the Steelers. He finished with 11 catches for 118 yards.
Reggie Nelson’s second interception set up Mike Nugent’s 44-yard field goal with 1:47 to go.
Roethlisberger was 28 of 45 for 262 yards with a touchdown, three interceptions and three sacks. Dalton was 23 of 38 for 231 yards with a touchdown, two fourth-quarter interceptions and three sacks.
In addition to falling to .500, the Steelers lost running back Le’Veon Bell indefinitely to a knee injury.
Roethlisberger ran out for introductions in a Steelers baseball cap with both arms raised as the crowd gave him the loudest ovation. And it didn’t take long to remind them of what they’d missed.
Roethlisberger completed four of five passes during an opening 80-yard touchdown drive. His 1-yard toss to Antonio Brown capped a 7-minute, 14-second possession — the kind of drive Pittsburgh had trouble pulling off in his absence.
The Bengals wasted several scoring chances in the second half as Pittsburgh’s defense tried to hold on.
Cameron Heyward blocked Nugent’s 42-yard field goal try late in the third quarter, and the defense picked off Dalton twice in the fourth quarter. After Cincinnati got a first-and-goal at the 5 early in the fourth quarter, Antwon Blake intercepted Dalton’s third-down pass in the end zone and returned it 42 yards.
Browns lose 34-20
CLEVELAND (AP) — Carson Palmer only needed one half to put away the badly bruised Browns.
Palmer threw four touchdown passes — three in the second half — and for 374 yards as the Arizona Cardinals rallied for a 34-20 win Sunday over the Cleveland Browns, who lost two defensive starters with concussions.
Palmer had two TD passes in the third quarter when the Cardinals (6-2) overcame a 20-10 halftime deficit. His third TD of the second half, a 6-yarder to Larry Fitzgerald, gave Arizona a 31-20 lead.
Michael Floyd had a 60-yard TD catch and tight end Troy Niklas had two short TD receptions as the Cardinals overcame four turnovers and won in Cleveland for the first time since 1985.
The Browns (2-6) dropped their third straight, and cornerback Joe Haden and safety Donte Whitner sustained concussions on consecutive plays in the third quarter, when Cleveland lost two defenders and the lead in a span of 7:25.