CINCINNATI (AP) — The balance of power is shifting in the AFC North.
Running back Giovani Bernard scored his first two NFL touchdowns on Monday night, and the Cincinnati Bengals beat the struggling Pittsburgh Steelers 20-10, an early sign of a change in the division's ranks.
At 0-2 for the first time in 11 years, the Steelers no longer seem to be one of the North's heavyweights. And the Bengals (1-1) have a lot going for them with an influx of rookies who are changing their offense significantly.
On Monday night, those rookies made their first impression on an old rivalry.
"It's AFC North football, man," Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. "It's physical. It's nasty, getting after each other. We were in a situation at the end of the game where we were trying to run the ball to win it and eat up the clock. We were getting after it."
And the Steelers?
"We have work to do," coach Mike Tomlin said. "We aren't going to hide from that fact. We are going to embrace it and accept it, and understand that there is some misery that comes from the position we are in right now."
Five things we learned from their first meeting of the season:
1. BENGALS HAVE THE UPPER HAND: They defeated the Steelers at Heinz Field last December to beat them out for the final wild-card spot, and now have beaten them twice in a row for the first time since 2009. They piled up 407 yards on offense — 127 on the ground — and held the ball for more than 35 minutes. Their defense limited the Steelers to 44 yards rushing. The numbers suggest there's a growing gap between the old Steelers and young Bengals, though they're not quite ready to proclaim it. "This doesn't define anything until you look back at the end of the year," coach Marvin Lewis said.