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mesaSteeler
12-05-2011, 07:52 PM
Steelers 35, Bengals 7: Game Rewind
http://www.timesonline.com/sports/local_sports/steelers-bengals-game-rewind/article_5addae48-1f01-11e1-a363-0019bb30f31a.html?mode=print
By Mike Bires mbires@timesonline.com | Posted: Monday, December 5, 2011 12:19 am

NO. 1 STAR

Antonio Brown gave the Steelers quite a scare late in the fourth quarter when he took a hard shot to the chest from a Bengals defensive back. Fortunately, the versatile second-year pro who plays wide receiver and returns kicks was OK. He only had the wind knocked out of him for a few seconds.

"That was one of my first big NFL hits," he said with a smile after the game.

Sunday marked another first for Brown -- he returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. It was his first career TD on a punt return. Last year as a rookie, he returned a kickoff 89 yards for a TD on his very first touch as a Steeler.

Beside his spectacular punt return - "nobody touched me," he said - Brown also caught two passes for 65 yards, including a 45-yard catch in the first quarter. He also ran the ball once on a reverse for a 9-yard gain.

PLAY OF THE GAME

Rookie Cameron Heyward, the Steelers' first-round pick in this year's draft, didn't get many snaps at defensive end. But he made a game-shaping play in the first quarter when he blocked Mike Nugent's 33-yard field goal. Nugent had made 21 of 22 attempts before Sunday.

Heyward's block came two plays after Andy Dalton's 4-yard TD pass to tight end Jermaine Gresham was negated due to a false start penalty. So despite driving to the Steelers' 4-yard line on their opening possession, the Bengals came away with no points.

THE BIG NUMBER

3: That's how many times James Harrison sacked Bengals QB Andy Dalton.

"We rushed him more than the previous game," Harrison said of the Nov. 13 win in Cincinnati when the Steelers didn't even sack Dalton once. "And we threw a few different looks at him today."

Before fracturing his right eye orbital in the Oct. 2 game in Houston, Harrison had just two sacks in four games. After missing four games, Harrison has six sacks in the last four games. With eight sacks, he still trails LaMarr Woodley for the team lead. Woodley has nine.

UP NEXT

The Steelers (9-3) have now finished their home-and-away games with the Ravens (9-3) and Bengals (7-5). The only AFC North team they have not faced yet are the Browns (4-8), who lost to the Ravens on Sunday, 24-10.

The Steelers host the Browns at 8:20 p.m. on Thursday.

BOTTOM LINE

It was a near-perfect perfect day for the Steelers.

They moved closer to clinching at least a wild-card playoff spot. They kept pace with the Ravens in the race for first place in the AFC North. By catching five passes for 30 yards, Hines Ward became the 19th player in NFL history and the first Steeler to reach 12,000 receiving yards in his career. Ben Roethlisberger (2,026) moved past Terry Bradshaw (2,025) and became the Steelers' all-time pass completions leader.

About the only negative for the Steelers was linebacker LaMarr Woodley leaving the game in the first quarter after aggravating his hamstring injury.

"It was a very necessary AFC North winning performance by our guys," coach Mike Tomlin said. "We made splash plays in all three phases."