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No Frills, No Worries for Steelers

September 22, 2003|From Associated Press

CINCINNATI — Jerome Bettis lowered his battering-ram shoulders and plowed into the end zone. Joey Porter yanked down the quarterback as the Terrible Towels twirled.

Different setting, very familiar scene.

The Steelers got back to their black-and-gold basics Sunday, running the ball when they wanted and turning Porter loose during a 17-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

"It was good to see us kind of reestablish a little bit of our tradition," Coach Bill Cowher said. "That's like the days of old."

Tens of thousands of Pittsburgh fans were in the crowd of 64,596 -- the largest to see the Bengals play in Cincinnati -- and stayed on their feet as the Steelers (2-1) went back to grinding it out.

In their first two games, they became dependent upon Tommy Maddox's passing. Amos Zereoue managed only 104 yards in the two games.

Bettis showed that the Bus still has a few miles left. When Zereoue needed a rest late in the third quarter, Bettis took over and led the Steelers to a decisive touchdown.

Toppling tacklers as he went, Bettis ran six plays in a row for 23 yards, putting Pittsburgh ahead, 14-3. He lowered his head and powered into the end zone on fourth-and-goal from inside the 1.

"You get frustrated," said Bettis, who had 59 yards in 16 carries. "As a running back, you want the opportunity to make a difference in the game. It's tough. When you have two running backs who want the football, it's going to be difficult."

Cowher ran onto the field and smacked Bettis on the left shoulder pad after the touchdown, a sign of his delight over a rediscovered running game.

So was Porter, who suffered gunshot wounds to the buttocks and right thigh three weeks earlier. He made an immediate impact on a defense that kept the Bengals (0-3) in check until the closing minutes.

The Steelers co-captain came out for the pregame coin toss and correctly called heads. Porter, the Steelers' top defensive player last season, also had one of four sacks of Jon Kitna.

"It seemed like it was a long time coming," Porter said. "I was ready to go, and the adrenaline was going to get me through just about anything. That felt like Christmas felt when I was 11 years old."

Cincinnati struggled without running back Corey Dillon, who strained his groin in the second quarter and didn't return. Kitna was 16 of 24 for 157 yards with one interception and a late touchdown pass.

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