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Bengals earn big win over division rivals on MNF

Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger is sacked by Cincinnati defensive tackle Geno Atkins, bottom, and defensive end Michael Johnson. (Associated Press)
Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger is sacked by Cincinnati defensive tackle Geno Atkins, bottom, and defensive end Michael Johnson. (Associated Press)

An elusive rookie made all the difference by darting through the Steelers’ defense.

Running back Giovani Bernard scored his first two NFL touchdowns, one of them on a short pass that he turned into a 27-yard score, and the Cincinnati Bengals beat Pittsburgh 20-10 on Monday night, extending the Steelers’ early misery.

The second-round draft pick had a 7-yard touchdown run in the first half before turning a short pass from Andy Dalton into a third-quarter score – a preview of what the Bengals (1-1) could become with a pass-catching threat out of the backfield.

First-round pick Tyler Eifert also had a big play, making a 61-yard catch that set up Bernard’s touchdown run.

The Bengals piled up 407 yards on one of the NFL’s toughest defenses, holding the ball for more than 35 minutes.

Pittsburgh fell to 0-2 for the first time since 2002, done in by another game of self-destruction on offense. The Steelers had two turnovers in scoring range and couldn’t hold the ball long enough to give their defense a breather, failing to get a first down on seven of their 12 possessions.

It was a chance for the Bengals to show they’ve supplanted the Steelers in the AFC North. They beat Pittsburgh 13-10 at Heinz Field last December to reach the playoffs, and now have moved ahead of them again with a rare Monday night victory. Cincinnati is 10-20 in Monday night games.

The Bengals put the ball in the Dalton’s hands in the first half, letting him pass away while they all but abandoned the run against one of the NFL’s top defenses. Dalton had an up-and-down game, finishing 25 of 45 for 280 yards. He was one attempt shy of career high.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger got Pittsburgh’s offense moving in spurts. He completed all five of his passes on a touchdown drive that pulled the Steelers into a 10-all tie at halftime, including completions of 19 and 43 yards to Emmanuel Sanders.

Goldson suspended

Tampa Bay safety Dashon Goldson has been suspended for one game for flagrant and repeat violations of NFL safety rules prohibiting hits to the head and neck area of defenseless players.

Goldson was penalized for unnecessary roughness in the second quarter of Sunday’s game against New Orleans for making direct, helmet-to-helmet contact with a defenseless receiver, Darren Sproles.

Goldson can’t practice this week nor play in the team’s game on Sunday against New England. He can return to football activities with the team next Monday.

The violation was Goldson’s fifth for unnecessary roughness since 2011 and his second in the first two weeks of the 2013 season. Goldson was fined $30,000 last week for a strike to the head/neck area on the New York Jets Jeff Cumberland.

Around the league

Detroit coach Jim Schwartz says tests on RB Reggie Bush’s left knee were “encouraging,” and his ailment isn’t a long-term injury. Bush took a helmet to his left knee Sunday at Arizona. … Jacksonville RB Maurice Jones-Drew has a tendon strain in his left foot. He will undergo an MRI as a precaution but the team hopes he won’t miss any games. … Atlanta lost two starters to season-ending injuries Sunday. Defensive end Kroy Biermann is out with a torn right Achilles tendon and fullback Bradie Ewing suffered a separated left shoulder.

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