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Steelers take down Bengals for AFC North title

Dec 29, 2014 - 6:21 AM Pittsburgh, PA ( - Antonio Brown scored two touchdowns and the Pittsburgh Steelers captured their first AFC North title since 2010 with a 27-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday night.

Brown opened the scoring with a 71-yard punt return for a touchdown, then put the game away late in the fourth quarter with a 63-yard TD catch. He ended with seven catches for 128 yards.

The Steelers (11-5), who ended the regular season with four straight wins, secured the No. 3 seed and will host No. 6 seed Baltimore next Saturday at 8:15 p.m. ET.

"It's typical AFC North ball. We take a lot of pride in being from the North. I look forward to it," said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. "It's going to be typical Steelers/Ravens. Steelers/Ravens in January, it's been a while since we had that."

The Bengals (10-5-1) will play at the fourth-seeded and AFC South-champion Colts next Sunday at 1:05.

Ben Roethlisberger, who played through an upset stomach, completed 24-of-38 passes for 317 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for the Steelers.

The talk in Pittsburgh this week will be about Le'Veon Bell's right knee. Bell left in the third quarter with a hyperextended knee following a collision with Cincinnati safety Reggie Nelson.

Prior to the injury, Bell carried the ball eight times for 20 yards and caught six passes for 80 yards.

Andy Dalton completed 27-of-38 passes for 244 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Bengals. Jeremy Hill carried the ball 23 times for 100 yards.

Trailing 20-17, the Bengals had a shot to take the lead when they blew up a Steelers fake punt with about six minutes left in the game. Punter Brad Wing's pass was intercepted by Dane Sanzenbacher.

But the Bengals quickly gave the ball back to the Steelers. Cornerback Antwon Blake forced wide receiver A.J. Green to fumble at the Pittsburgh 30 with 3:51 left.

Brown sealed the victory with his 63-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown.

"We had a rough day," said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. "It's key to take care of football. We didn't do a very good job of it. The punt return at the beginning of the game, we got back into the game but we continued to turn the football over and I thought the defense played pretty well throughout the day. Then we gave up the big play there at the end of the football game. It's hard to win consistently like that."

The Steelers took a 7-0 lead on Brown's punt return score. Brown started to his right, reversed field and raced down the left sideline with 10:50 left in the first quarter.

The Bengals were driving when Brice McCain picked off Dalton at the Pittsburgh 2-yard line. The Steelers failed to capitalize, going three-and-out.

Cincinnati started from the Pittsburgh 42 following a short punt. Brandon Tate kept the drive alive with a 14-yard catch on 4th-and-3. Three plays later on 3rd-and-6, Dalton completed a 17-yard shovel pass to Giovani Bernard for a touchdown. Bernard jumped over a defender before going in for the game-tying score with 2:43 remaining in the period.

The Bengals got the ball right back following a Pittsburgh turnover. Wallace Gilberry recovered for the Bengals at the Pittsburgh 34. Cincinnati, however, had to settle for a 39-yard Mike Nugent field goal with 12:32 left in the second quarter.

The Steelers moved the ball to the Cincinnati 11-yard line, but had to settle for a 29-yard Shaun Suisham field goal.

McCain came up with his second interception of the game just two plays into the ensuing Cincinnati possession. Martavis Bryant then took a wide receiver screen 21 yards for a touchdown to give the Steelers a 17-10 lead.

Pittsburgh tacked on three more points before the half. Suisham capped an 11- play drive with a 25-yard field goal.

Nugent missed a 50-yard field goal on the first possession of the second half.

The Steelers were driving late in the third quarter when Roethlisberger was picked off by Nelson. The Bengals then put together an impressive 15-play, 89- yard drive that Jermaine Gresham capped with a 5-yard TD catch.

Game Notes

Pittsburgh also beat the Bengals in Cincinnati on Dec. 7 ... The punt return touchdown was the third of Brown's career ... Green caught eight passes for 82 yards for the Bengals, who won the AFC North last year ... The Steelers won their sixth AFC North title.