Burrow throws 3 TDs, Bengals drop listless Steelers 24-10

Sports

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) looks to pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

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PITTSBURGH (AP) — Joe Burrow threw for 178 yards and three touchdowns, including two to rookie Ja’Marr Chase, and the Cincinnati Bengals handled the listless Pittsburgh Steelers 24-10 on Sunday.

Burrow connected on a 17-yard strike to Tyler Boyd and found Chase for 34-yard and 9-yard scores as the Bengals (2-1) won at Heinz Field for the first time since 2015.

Facing a pass rush missing injured All-Pro linebacker T.J. Watt, Burrow completed 14 of 18 passes, highlighted by the chemistry he and Chase have quickly rekindled since the Bengals selected Burrow’s former LSU teammate in the first round of the draft.

Their first touchdown was a beautiful rainbow down the sideline with 37 seconds to go in the first half that ended with Chase simply running past Pittsburgh cornerback James Pierre for the score that put Cincinnati up 14-7 at the break. Their second — in which Burrow had plenty of time to find Chase in the back of the end zone — put the Steelers in a 17-point hole midway through the third quarter from which Pittsburgh (1-2) never threatened to recover.

Joe Mixon ran for 90 yards for Cincinnati, which is above .500 heading into October for the first time in head coach Zac Taylor’s three-year tenure. The Bengals did it by protecting Burrow. The Steelers failed to register a sack, ending their NFL-record streak of 75 games with at least one quarterback takedown.

The going for Roethlisberger was far tougher.

Playing behind an offensive line that is struggling to do much of anything right, Roethlisberger threw a pair of interceptions in Pittsburgh territory, absorbed four sacks and looked out of sorts much of the afternoon. Roethlisberger completed 38 of 57 passes for 318 yards — most of them while trying unsuccessfully to rally in the second half — with a touchdown and the two picks.

Rookie running back Najee Harris ran for 40 yards and caught 14 passes for 102 more as often the only playmaker at Roethlisberger’s disposal. The Steelers were playing without leading wide receiver Diontae Johnson (groin) and lost JuJu Smith-Schuster to a rib injury in the third quarter.

Roethlisberger acknowledged before the season there would be growing pains while adjusting to a new line and first-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada. What he meant figuratively has turned into something quite literal. The Bengals beat up the 39-year-old Roethlisberger, sacking him four times and knocking him down a handful of others.

Pittsburgh’s line — one featuring two rookies, a free agent signee and a couple of holdovers — looks overmatched early in the season. Sloppy too. All five starters were called for at least one penalty while facing a revamped Cincinnati defensive front that is offering early proof the Bengals are far more than just Burrow and Chase.

INJURIES

Bengals: CB Chidobe Awuzie left in the second half with a groin injury.

Steelers: Not only is Pittsburgh’s line playing poorly, it’s now also beat up. Right tackle Chuks Okorafor left in the third quarter with a possible concussion and rookie center Kendrick Green left in the fourth quarter with a knee injury.

UP NEXT

Bengals: Host Jacksonville on Thursday night. Cincinnati beat the Jaguars 33-25 at Paul Brown Stadium last October.

Steelers: Visit Green Bay next Sunday. Pittsburgh has won each of its past two visits to Lambeau Field, including a 38-31 win in 2013.

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