Steelers clinch AFC North with win over Bengals

Mon Dec 29, 2014 12:27am EST
 
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(Reuters) - Antonio Brown caught one long touchdown pass and scored another from a punt return as Pittsburgh beat Cincinnati 27-17 to clinch the AFC North on Sunday.

With both teams already having secured playoff berths, the Steelers earned the AFC’s No. 3 seed and a home playoff game against Baltimore. It is their first division title since 2010.

The Bengals fall to No. 5 and will travel to Indianapolis.

Pittsburgh rose to the occasion behind All-Pro receiver Brown, who finished with 212 total yards.

Brown opened the scoring with a 71-yard punt return in the first quarter and closed it with a clinching 63-yard reception that came with 2:50 left and the Steelers holding a 20-17 lead.

Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton came in battling the flu and tossed two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Bengals took a 10-7 lead in the second quarter before Pittsburgh ran off 13 straight points before halftime, highlighted by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s 21-yard throw to Martavis Bryant.

Cincinnati pulled to 20-17 early in the fourth on Dalton's touchdown throw to Jermaine Gresham, but would get no closer.

Roethlisberger finished with 317 yards passing but the Steelers suffered a potentially damaging injury to running back Le’Veon Bell, who left in the third quarter with a knee problem and did not return.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

 
Dec 28, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) runs past Cincinnati Bengals strong safety George Iloka (43) to score a sixty-three yard touchdown during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports