NFL: Cincinnati's play-off hopes given setback by AFC North rivals Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Updated: 16/12/13 10:25am
Andy Dalton: Did not throw a touchdown pass until the fourth quarter
The Cincinnati Bengals will not be able to clinch the AFC North title this week after they suffered a 30-20 defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.
The Bengals needed to beat their division rivals and hope the Baltimore Ravens lost to the Detroit Lions on Monday, but a disastrous first quarter at Heinz Field scuppered those plans.
The Steelers grabbed the first touchdown when Bengals punter Kevin Huber fumbled on fourth down on his own one-yard line, with the subsequent turnover of possession allowing Le'Veon Bell to ruin in the score.
The lead was soon doubled after Antonio Brown caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger, and Pittsburgh were 21-0 ahead by end of the first quarter as Brown took a punt return 67 yards to the house.
The Bengals had only reduced the gap by one point at half-time, going in 27-7 behind after a touchdown run from Giovani Bernard was sandwiched in between two Shaun Suisham.
Another three points from Suisham made it 30-7 and it was not until the final quarter until the Bengals mounted any sustained offence as Tyler Eifert and Marvin Jones caught consolation scores from Andy Dalton.
Roethlisberger, who broke the Steelers' single-season completion record during the contest, threw for 191 yards and a score while Dalton tallied 230 passing yards and two touchdowns.
"It's tough, for sure, because we had everything in front of us," Cincinnati wide receiver AJ said.
"We could have had ourselves set up in a great position if we could have come out here and won today. But, at least we have these last two games at home, and with the way we play at home I feel confident that we're going to win them back in Cincinnati."
The Bengals still sit at the top of the division, but a Baltimore win on Monday would leave them one game behind with two left to play.