CINCINNATI — The Steelers took control of the AFC North by doing a little bit of everything during a month-long winning streak: throwing it, running it, playing some steely defense.
Their fifth straight victory came a whole new way. Call it the kick-6.
Chris Boswell tied the club record with six field goals, and Ben Roethlisberger threw a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter Sunday, rallying Pittsburgh to a 24-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals that kept the Steelers in control of the division.
“We’ve said we’ll win the game how we have to win it,” Roethlisberger said.
In Cincinnati, they win every which way.
The Steelers (9-5) won their fourth in a row at Paul Brown Stadium, taking advantage of more meltdown moments by the defending division champions. And now they can clinch the North by beating the Ravens (8-6) at Heinz Field next Sunday.
“A lot of guys are treating this like it’s the playoffs already,” linebacker Ryan Shazier said.
The Bengals (5-8-1) had some playoff flashbacks.
Last January, Cincinnati melted down in the final minute for an 18-16 loss to the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium in the opening round of the playoffs. Penalties on Vontaze Burfict and Adam “Pacman” Jones set up Boswell’s 35-yard field goal in the closing seconds.
Burfict and Jones got personal fouls again on Sunday as the animosity carried over. Burfict tackled Roethlisberger after he got rid of the ball, and Jones was flagged for taunting.
“They let Pittsburgh do whatever they wanted to,” Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick fumed. “They should’ve been calling stuff on them, too.”
Running back Jeremy Hill had an early take-that moment as the Bengals scored on each of their first four possessions for a 20-6 lead. As part of his touchdown celebration, he grabbed a Terrible Towel a fan threw on the field, tried to tear it, and then threw it to the ground.
Boswell brought them back kick by kick, accounting for Pittsburgh’s first 15 points with field goals of 45, 49, 49, 40, 49 and 30 yards into a gusting wind.
“They didn’t look pretty, they didn’t go over by much, but they went in,” said Boswell, who got a game ball.
In the end, there was yet another Bengals meltdown . They had penalties on four consecutive plays — including Pat Sims’ personal foul — that set up Roethlisberger’s 24-yard touchdown pass to Eli Rogers for a 24-20 lead. The Steelers appreciated the help.
“You just kind of smirk and move on,” guard Ramon Foster said.
Gary Anderson (1988 vs. Denver) and Jeff Reed (2002 vs. Jacksonville) also kicked six field goals for the Steelers, who beat the Broncos 39-21 and the Jaguars 25-23 in those contests.
Finish ‘em off
The Steelers got the ball back at their 16-yard line with 5:53 left and ran out the clock with a 13-play drive to the Cincinnati 8.
Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown set an NFL record for most catches by a player in their first 200 regular-season games with 622. His 471 catches since 2013 surpass Marvin Harrison for the most by a player in any four-year span. … Roethlisberger is 22-4 in games in his native Ohio, including 12-2 in Cincinnati and 10-2 in Cleveland. … After picking up 184 yards in the first half, the Bengals managed only 38 while getting shut out in the second half.
Steelers: DE Stephon Tuitt had a facemask penalty against Andy Dalton that extended Cincinnati’s opening field goal drive. He also injured his right knee on the drive and didn’t return. Last December at Paul Brown Stadium, Tuitt intercepted one of Dalton’s passes and the quarterback broke his right thumb tackling him. … TE Ladarius Green caught a 28-yard pass on the final drive and then went to the locker room to be tested for a concussion.
Bengals: WR A.J. Green was inactive for the fourth straight game with a strained right hamstring. He returned to practice on a limited basis last week and hopes to play in one of the two final games.
The Steelers lost to the Ravens 21-14 on Nov. 6 in Baltimore. The Steelers close the regular season by hosting Cleveland.
The Bengals play at Houston on Saturday, then finish the season at home against the Ravens.
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