PITTSBURGH — Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers know exactly how to beat the Cincinnati Bengals — with or without Chad Ocho Cinco.
The Steelers limited the depleted Bengals to six first downs following an early touchdown drive and found just enough offense themselves amid the snow flurries to control the clock behind Roethlisberger and beat Cincinnati 27-10 on Thursday night.
Pittsburgh (8-3) wasn't dominating — except defensively — in winning its fifth in a row over Cincinnati (1-9-1), its longest streak since an eight-game run in the early 1990s. The Steelers trailed 7-0 until Roethlisberger threw a 3-yard pass to tight end Heath Miller, their first touchdown in more than seven quarters, and didn't take control until backup running backs Mewelde Moore and Gary Russell led a third-quarter drive that made it 20-7.
"It just felt good to score," Roethlisberger said.
Russell ran 2 yards for his first NFL touchdown with 16 seconds left in the third after Moore, benched four days before after being stopped at the goal line by San Diego on fourth-and-inches, ran four times for 21 yards and made a 22-yard reception during a 64-yard drive.
Roethlisberger, 17-for-30 for 243 yards, scored himself from the 8 late in the game as Pittsburgh held a more than 10-minute edge in time of possession.
Jeff Reed also kicked field goals of 37 and 38 yards that weren't sure things given the slippery field conditions that helped slow a Bengals offense that was loaded with backups because of injuries and Ocho Cinco's deactivation for violating team rules.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, under constant pressure from a Pittsburgh defense that leads the NFL in almost every major statistical category, was below 100 yards in passing until a brief drive in the fourth quarter that ended with Shayne Graham's 26-yard field goal. He finished 20-for-37 for 168 yards, but the Bengals were outgained 364-208.
For most of the game, the Bengals were as frigid as the weather. The game time temperature of 32 with a wind chill in the low 20s didn't prevent Pittsburgh's defensive starters from playing in shirt sleeves.
Ocho Cinco's absence allowed the Steelers to double cover T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who was coming off eight consecutive games with six or more catches but found little open space downfield and ended with four catches for 20 yards.
"They did what they felt was best and whether I agree with it or disagree with it, it doesn't matter," Houshmandzadeh said of Ocho Cinco's absence. "He (Lewis) is the head coach and Mike Brown owns the team and they are going to do what they want. I'm sure he would have helped, but we've lost eight games with him."
The Steelers, held without a touchdown during the first 11-10 victory in NFL history against San Diego, got off to another slow start offensively before scoring on Miller's catch in traffic in the end zone, but not until Cincinnati scored first on Fitzpatrick's 10-yard pass to ex-UK Wildcat Glenn Holt on third-and-6 late in the first.