(Reuters) - The Pittsburgh Steelers overcame a slew of injuries to key players to earn a much-needed 24-17 victory over division rivals Cincinnati on Sunday.
With defensive stalwart Troy Polamalu and running backs Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman among those sitting out, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger helped rally the team from a 14-3 deficit to secure the win and get to 3-3 for the season.
Pittsburgh had entered the game having got off to their worst start in six years, and having blown a lead to Tennessee in a loss just 10 days earlier.
“We put ourselves in too many holes. I take a lot of that on myself,” Roethlisberger told reporters. “We had to win (this) one game. We had each other’s backs all day.”
Roethlisberger, who finished with 278 yards passing, found Heath Miller on a nine-yard score to tie the game at 14-14 just before halftime.
The teams traded field goals in the third quarter before Pittsburgh’s Chris Rainey capped a drive with an 11-yard touchdown run in the fourth.
The Steelers had 167 rushing yards, including 122 from Jonathan Dwyer, to dominate possession with 15 more minutes with the ball than the Bengals.
Cincinnati could find little offense after a fast start that included a five-yard Cedric Peerman touchdown run and an eight-yard scoring catch from A.J. Green.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw for only 105 yards while Green was held to just the one catch.
“Ike (Taylor) followed him all around and we had guys jamming him and guys over the top to kind of deter (Dalton) from throwing him the ball,” said Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark.
“It’s big, because it’s a division win and it puts us right there in the hunt.”
The Baltimore Ravens lead the AFC North at 5-2, followed by the Steelers (3-3) and the Bengals (3-4), who have now lost three in a row.
Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles, Editing by Peter Rutherford