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.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Why the Patriots are off to a slow start; Chris Gronkowski says Rob is 'super frustrated'

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NBC Sports Boston Photo

Why the Patriots are off to a slow start; Chris Gronkowski says Rob is 'super frustrated'

1:28 - Ben Volin joins Michael Holley and Tom Giles on Boston Sports Tonight to give his 3 reasons for the Patriots slow start including Belichick decimating the team’s depth as general manager and Tom Brady missing offseason workouts. 

6:39 - Rob Gronkowski’s brother Chris went on WEEI and bashed the Patriots wide receivers and said he thinks Rob is “super frustrated”. On Early Edition, Tom E. Curran breaks down what this could mean for Gronk, Belichick and the Patriots moving forward.

10:42 - New NBC Sports Boston addition Chris Forsberg talks with Giles and Holley about the Celtics first training camp scrimmage and the progress of Gordon Hayward’s comeback.

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NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Is Sony Michel the key to the Patriots beating the Dolphins on Sunday?

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NBC Sports Boston Photo

Is Sony Michel the key to the Patriots beating the Dolphins on Sunday?

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Tom E. Curran, Jerod Mayo and Phil Perry discuss the tough start for the Patriots, and break down what they need to do on both sides of the ball to improve.

(1:00) Jerod Mayo and Phil Perry break down what they saw go wrong for the Patriots defense against the Lions.

(4:30) Why did the Patriots struggle with defending the run so much?

(11:00) Is there anything personnel wise the Patriots defense can do to improve?

(13:30) What’s going on with the Patriots offense? how can they improve?

(16:00) Jerod explains why he has faith the Patriots are going to be ok

(20:00) What should we make of Rob Gronkowski’s brother saying Gronk is frustrated by being double covered?

(27:00) Is Sony Michel the key to the Patriots beating the Dolphins on Sunday?

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NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE