(Reuters) - Cincinnati rookie Giovani Bernard enjoyed a breakout performance with two touchdowns as the Bengals beat the stuttering Pittsburgh Steelers 20-10 on Monday.
Bernard, a shifty young running back, earned the first score of his career on a seven-yard run in the first quarter then broke a 10-10 tie in the third on a 27-yard reception that helped the Bengals (1-1) run away from their AFC North foes who slipped to 0-2.
He finished with 38 yards on the ground and 27 yards receiving.
“It’s nice to be able to throw check downs and for him to take it for a touchdown,” Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton told reporters. “He ran the ball well (also), that’s what we expect out of him.”
Pittsburgh struggled on offense for the second consecutive week, and was limited to just 278 total yards as they lost their opening two games for the first time since 2002.
“There’s not a lot of positives going on right now,” said Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger. “We can’t start doubting each other. Right now, there’s a general feeling of being upset.”
Bengals quarterback Dalton completed 25 of 45 passes for 280 yards and one touchdown while Roethlisberger finished 20-for-37 for 251 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Roethlisberger found Derek Moye on a one-yard score late in the second that tied the game 10-10 going into halftime, but the Steelers could get nothing going in the second half.
One week after managing just 195 yards of offense in a 16-9 loss against Tennessee, the Steelers didn’t manage a first down on seven of their first 10 possessions.
The Bengals forced two turnovers inside the red zone, including an interception by safety Reggie Nelson with 4:55 left in the game at the Cincinnati 13.
The Bengals had already taken a 10-point advantage thanks to Mike Nugent’s 25-yard field goal with 7:51 remaining.
Cincinnati began the game showing off their air attack, but ultimately grounded Pittsburgh into submission.
Dalton attempted 32 passes in the first half as the Bengals ran the ball just 10 times for 53 yards. Cincinnati ran the ball 24 times in the second half as it got the lead and then ran time off the clock. The Bengals finished the game with 407 total yards.
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles, editing by Amlan Chakraborty