Depleted Steelers lean on Willie Colon, Ike Taylor in first road win of 2012

Andy Lyons

The Steelers were out two starting offensive linemen and had their best performance of the year. Oft-criticized cornerback Ike Taylor allowed one catch and eight yards to Bengals WR A.J. Green as the Steelers topped the host Bengals 24-17 in Week 7.


If someone told the Steelers they weren't going to be able to run the ball, they forgot to tell left guard Willie Colon, and running back Jonathan Dwyer.

There were plenty people of saying it. Dwyer, aided by a 32-yard run that allowed the Steelers to kneel the game out inside the Bengals' 10-yard line, rushed for 122 yards in the Steelers' 24-17 win in Cincinnati Sunday.

If someone told the Steelers they were going to be able to defend Bengals WR A.J. Green, they forgot to tell cornerback Ike Taylor.

Taylor sounded off on his weekly radio show about criticism he's received lately and he turned in one of the finest performance of his career. He played disciplined, aggressive football, not committing a penalty, and challenging one of the game's best receivers.

Green entered the game with 22 catches, 317 yards and four touchdowns in his past three games. Sunday? One catch, eight yards, six targets. Taylor completely shut the AFC Offensive Player of the Month in September out.

Dropping down 14-3 early in the game, it appeared it was much of the same for a Steelers team that has struggled to compete in road games. Pittsburgh got a big turnover - an interception by outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley - and turned it into a Heath Miller touchdown reception from Ben Roethlisberger. The pair connected on a two-point conversion to tie the game at halftime.

After splitting field goals, the Steelers' defense took over.

Cincinnati had 28 yards on their final four drives, their last play being a desperation throw about 11 feet over the head of Green - a play he nearly made.

It was the only spot the rotating Steelers defense of Taylor and another defender didn't cover with certainty.

As the defense shut Cincinnati down, the Steelers running game heated up. Colon was dominant in what was perhaps his best game as an offensive lineman - let alone as a left guard in his first year at the position.

Colon led the offensive line's best overall performance in a very long time, despite two sacks and two pressures, the unit dominated without its best lineman, center Maurkice Pouncey, and right tackle Marcus Gilbert.

The Bengals made Sunday their 32nd consecutive game with at least one sack, and it's one of the better pass-rushing units in the NFL. Behind a game-plan aimed at short passes, the Steelers protected well, and overwhelmed the Bengals in the second half.

Roethlisberger was an impressive 27-for-37 for 278 yards and a touchdown along with a first-half interception. His counterpart, Andy Dalton, was 14-for-28 for 105 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

The Steelers (3-3) will go into their Week 8 game at home against Washington with a sense of optimism. Dwyer was their first 100-yard rusher this season. Taylor and Colon - penalty-ravaged in 2012 - weren't flagged once. Roethlisberger was sharp and decisive despite numerous drops from wide receiver Mike Wallace.

Pittsburgh's season has new breath, and with health being the main concern, they didn't suffer one injury.

Except WR Emmanuel Sanders, who appeared to be clipped by a sniper in the fourth quarter. He miraculously survived, and even played the rest of the game.


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