Burrow throws 4 TD passes, Bengals rally past Steelers 37-30

PITTSBURGH — So much for the Cincinnati Bengals, who are struggling to score without Ja’Marr Chase. Or Joe Mixon for that matter.

The defending AFC champion can injure opponents in all sorts of ways, no matter who’s in the lineup. Joe Burrow proved it Sunday with a 37-30 win over Pittsburgh.

Yes, that was Samaje Perine, who set a franchise record by catching three touchdown passes, the most in a single game by a Cincinnati running back. Yes, that was Trent Irwin, called up from the practice team, who scored the first goal of his four-year career with a 1-yard grab in the back of the endzone to give the Bengals a definitive lead midway through the third quarter.

More than two months away from an upset home loss to the Steelers in Week 1 in which he was relentlessly beaten, Burrow responded by going on 24 of 39 for 355 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions.

“He’s always comfortable,” said Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor. “The whole world could come crashing down around him (and he doesn’t mind)… he’s a special player.”

One who can hardly do it alone. The Bengals (6-4) have won four of five from a 2-3 start and have 30-plus points in all four wins, the last two, though Chase sat out while recovering from a hip injury.

“It just shows what we’ve got,” said Cincinnati receiver Tee Higgins, who caught nine passes for 148 yards. “We have firepower.”

The Bengals amassed 408 total yards of offense and combined touchdown drives for 79, 92 and 93 yards to beat the Steelers (3-7) for the fourth time in five games.

“I think we play as well as anyone else,” said Burrow, who rushed for 10,000 yards in 36 career games, making him the third-fastest player in league history to reach that plateau with Hall of Famer Kurt Warner. “We go all out aggressively.”

Mixon, who had a five-touchdown performance in a blowout win over Carolina two weeks ago, managed to rush just 20 yards before being put on the NFL’s concussion record. Doesn’t matter. Perine stepped in and converted flips from Burrow into touchdowns of 29, 11 and 6 yards, the last with Steelers defenseman Levi Wallace on Perine’s back giving the Bengals a 34-23 lead with 4:30 left.

“I’m the checkdown (guy) and I’m lucky enough to have some room when (Burrow) checks to make a difference,” Perine said. “Besides, I’m just the next guy.”

Pittsburgh (3-7) saw its chance to repeat the Week 1 upset it achieved in Cincinnati in September fade in the second half as a 20-17 lead vanished. Rookie Kenny Pickett rushed for 265 yards and a touchdown and Najee Harris rushed for 90 yards and two points, but the NFL’s second-lowest scoring offense stuttered after halftime.

“Our defense did a great job to give us a chance to win the game and we didn’t push through in the second half,” Pickett said. “It’s on us. We need to fix it and have two strong halves to beat a team like that.”

The Steelers totaled just 52 yards on their first six drives of the second half, converting two short fields into just three points. That was all it took for Burrow to likely end every slim outside chance Pittsburgh had to be a factor in the AFC North race on track.

“It’s not good,” Harris said. “But we just have to be here and stack stones. … It was a difficult question. We really wanted that.”

WHAT HAPPENS: The Steelers couldn’t disrupt Burrow as effectively as they did in Week 1, when they sacked him seven times and forced five Bengals turnovers. Pittsburgh only defeated Burrow twice, though linebacker TJ Watt delivered another highlight reel game when he simultaneously fended off a block from Bengal’s tackle La’el Collins and Burrow’s airborne pass for his sixth career interception and second of this one Season snapped against Burrow.

“I’d like to say there’s something I can do about it, but there’s nothing I can do about that,” Burrow said.

CHRISMAN DEBUTS: The Kevin Huber era in Cincinnati may be over. The longtime punter – whose 216 games played is a franchise record – championed Drue Chrisman. Chrisman averaged 50 yards on three punts.