Patriots

AFC: Steelers shut down Bengals to pull away for 29-14 win

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AFC: Steelers shut down Bengals to pull away for 29-14 win

PITTSBURGH - Ben Roethlisberger threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns, Le'Veon Bell added 192 total yards and Pittsburgh's defense dominated the Cincinnati Bengals in the second half of a 29-14 victory on Sunday.

The Steelers (5-2) relied on their stars to take the lead and then on their reinvigorated defense to blunt Cincinnati's and give themselves a significant cushion over the rest of the underwhelming AFC North.

The Bengals (2-4) came in looking to add some street cred to their resurgence after their 0-3 start, but instead spent the second half reverting to the kind of ineffective offense that got Ken Zampese fired two weeks into the season. The Steelers picked off Andy Dalton twice and sacked him three times over the final two quarters to pull away.

Chris Boswell added five field goals for Pittsburgh, which posted its highest points total and appears to be rounding into form as Halloween nears.

Two weeks after openly questioning whether he still "had it," Roethlisberger put together easily his best half of the season. He hit Antonio Brown for a 7-yard touchdown to cap Pittsburgh's first drive, found a wide-open JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 31-yard score in the second quarter and threw a perfectly placed 23-yard deep out to Brown late in the second quarter to spark a drive that ended with a 24-yard Chris Boswell field goal that put the Steelers up 20-14 at the half.

Dalton and Cincinnati appeared ready to keep pace early. He connected with Brandon LaFell and Tyler Kroft with first-half touchdowns, but when the Steelers turned the pressure up, the Bengals crumbled while losing for the eighth time in their last nine meets with their longtime nemesis.

Cincinnati managed just one first down in the second half, much of which Dalton spent on the run or throwing picks. Joe Haden collected his first interception with Pittsburgh when he made a juggling grab that set up Boswell's field goal. William Gay added one later in the third quarter on an ugly overthrow by Dalton.

Dalton finished 17 of 30 for 144 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Bengals had just 19 yards of total offense in the second half. Given one last desperate shot to get back in it with 5 minutes left trailing by 15, Dalton threw the ball away on fourth down, a microcosm of a forgettable afternoon.

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Shawne Merriman's hilarious Father's Day tweet will make Patriots fans smile

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USA TODAY Sports

Shawne Merriman's hilarious Father's Day tweet will make Patriots fans smile

Shawne Merriman is no fan of the New England Patriots, but his son's allegiances seems to differ a bit.

The former Los Angeles Chargers star posted a Father's Day tweet Sunday with a photo of his son getting ready to buy a Tom Brady Patriots jersey with a Super Bowl LI patch, and the three-time Pro Bowler's reaction is priceless. 

A Brady jersey probably is the last piece of NFL apparel that Merriman would want his son to buy, given his history with the Patriots.

Merriman still hasn't forgotten about the Patriots coming into San Diego and defeating the 14-2 Chargers in the 2006 AFC Divisional Round. It was the Chargers' best team in a long time, and after the Patriots won in dramatic fashion, some New England players mocked Merriman's sack dance during the on-field celebrations. Chargers players weren't happy at all.

But hey, props to Merriman's son, he knows greatness when he sees it. And he's not alone, evidenced by Brady once again leading all NFL players in royalties from sales of items including jerseys.

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Tom Brady is taking notes from Raptors' massive championship parade

Tom Brady is taking notes from Raptors' massive championship parade

The Raptors saw an estimated 1.5 million people flood the streets of Toronto on Wednesday for the team's first NBA championship parade.

Tom Brady's reaction? Challenge accepted.

Here's the New England Patriots quarterback's simple yet effective tweet upon seeing the massive turnout in Toronto:

Brady knows a thing or two about highly-attended championship parades: Roughly 1.5 million people came out in Boston just four months ago to watch the Patriots celebrate their sixth Super Bowl title.

That attendance number was a record for the city's many Patriots title parades, but it appears the Raptors matched that Monday.

So, Brady and Co. will just have to win a seventh championship to raise the bar yet again next February.

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