Joe Burrows threw four touchdown passes, three to backup running back Samaje Perine and three as the Cincinnati Bengals rallied past the Pittsburgh Steelers 37-30 on Sunday.
The Bengals (6-4) relied heavily on Perine to win for the fourth time in five games, who missed the second half with starter Joe Mixon after going into the NFL’s concussion protocol.
Burrow completed 24 of 39 passes for 355 yards, on the day he became the third-fastest player in NFL history to reach 10,000 career yards passing. Perine ran for 30 yards and caught four passes for 52 yards, rushing three times into the end zone while defenders covering him gave chase in vain.
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Pittsburgh (3-7) saw its chance to repeat a Week 1 loss in the second half as it took a 20-17 lead at Cincinnati in September. Rookie Kenny Pickett passed for 265 yards and a touchdown and Najee Harris ran for 90 yards and two scores, but the NFL’s second-lowest scoring offense carried most of the second half.
Burrow took the first half lead to tear the Steelers apart. Pittsburgh adjusted their defensive front by throwing their hands to tip passes or disrupt Burrow’s timing. It sometimes worked, with Levi Wallace intercepting a pass on a deflection and TJ Watt making a supernatural net in the third quarter.
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The Bengals began to look at Burrow deep, connecting with Tyler Boyd and drills squad call-up Tyler Irvin to take a long lead during an eight-play, 93-yard drive in the fourth quarter, which was followed by Joe Perrine. ended with Wallace being dragged across the goal line. 6-yard score that made it 34–23 with 4:35 remaining.
Cincinnati has won four of five against the Steelers. The Bengals had dropped 14 of their last 15 against their longtime AFC North nemesis.
All but one of those losses came before Burrows did. His combination of poise, precision and swagger has upended the fortunes of a franchise and shifted the balance of power in a rivalry Pittsburgh has long dominated.
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Burrow didn’t get there in 2020 without enduring some growing pains as a rookie. Pickett finds himself in the same spot after being handed the keys to the offense in the middle of Week 3.
While the Steelers showed progress during a back-and-forth first half – Pittsburgh’s 20 points matched the most points scored in regulation this season – the momentum stalled in the second half.
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Four of the Steelers’ first five possessions after halftime ended with a punt, giving Burrow all the space he needed to effectively eliminate any slim outside chances Pittsburgh had of the division down the stretch. Race was a factor.