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Bengals ride big first half to hand Steelers third straight loss – TSN

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CINCINNATI — The Pittsburgh Steelers’ December swoon is looking more like a collapse.

The Steelers lost their third straight — getting thumped 27-17 by the last-place Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night — after ripping off 11 straight wins to start the season. They couldn’t generate any offence early, and the opportunistic Bengals took advantage of their mistakes.

Assured of a playoff berth, the Steelers (11-3) could have wrapped up the AFC North with a win but instead turned the ball over three times and allowed Cincinnati to build a 17-0 halftime lead.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “We’re not a good football team right now.”

Three weeks ago, the Steelers were on track for the top overall seed in the AFC, but now they could end up a wild card. Pittsburgh has tough matchups remaining against Indianapolis (10-4) and division rival Cleveland (10-4).

Pittsburgh averaged 29.8 points during its first 10 games and Ben Roethlisberger, back from an elbow injury that cost him most of 2019, looked like an MVP candidate. But the Steelers struggled to an uninspired 19-14 win over a COVID-19-decimated Baltimore Ravens team on Dec. 2 and haven’t topped 20 points in a game since.

“High frustration,” said Roethlisberger, who had 19 passing yards in the first half and was picked off by Mackensie Alexander, setting up a touchdown. He finished 20 for 38 for 170 yards.

Cincinnati (3-10-1) snapped a streak of 11 straight losses to Pittsburgh in most unlikely fashion, with Ryan Finley at quarterback. The second-year player, starting in place of injured No. 1 overall draft pick Joe Burrow, completed seven passes for 89 yards, but his touchdown run early in the fourth quarter all but sealed it for the Bengals.

The injury-plagued Bengals had lost five straight, averaging 10 points per game and rarely looking competitive, since Burrow led them to a 31-20 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 1.

“We gave everybody a game ball today,” said coach Zac Taylor, now 5-24-1 in his two seasons. “Everyone deserves to cherish this night. We needed a big divisional win against a team we’ve struggled against. It was fun to see the players celebrate and have fun.”

UPSET WEEKEND

Pittsburgh was a 14-point favourite, and the Los Angeles Rams were favoured by 17 before losing to the previously winless New York Jets on Sunday. It was the first time since the 1970s that two teams favoured by 14 points or more lost on the same weekend.

PACED BY BERNARD

Veteran running back Giovani Bernard, who’s been starting in place of the injured Joe Mixon, had 25 carries for 83 yards as the Bengals stuck to a ground-heavy approach. He ran for a touchdown and caught a pass from Finley for another score. Both TDs came after the Bengals forced turnovers.

“Obviously it feels good to win, but it amplifies everything because of what’s happened this season,” Bernard said. “To be able to beat a team like that. We know they’re a good team, they know they’re a good team, but when you play those divisional games, the records don’t matter. It’s about who wants it more.”

TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE

The Steelers rallied within 17-10 in the second half before Finley ran untouched around the left side for a 23-yard touchdown with 11:21 left in the game to push the lead back to 14.

Pittsburgh scored again on a plunge by Benny Snell after getting a pass-interference call in the end zone on fourth-and-4 from the Cincinnati 12.

The Steelers got the ball back with 2:17 left at their own 24 but four incomplete passes by Roethlisberger all but finished it. Austin Seibert kicked a 33-yard field goal with 12 seconds left for the final margin.

MAKING THE TRIP

There were more Terrible Towels than Bengals jerseys in Paul Brown Stadium, where the limited crowd was announced at 10,249.

QUARTERBACK SHUFFLE

Finley was the third starting QB for the Bengals this season. Burrow suffered his season-ending knee injury on Nov. 22 and Brandon Allen started the next three games, all losses. Allen suffered a knee injury in a loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 13.

WATT’S UP

With a first-quarter sack, Steelers LB T.J. Watt joined Hall of Famers Reggie White and Derrick Thomas as the only players to record at least 13 sacks in three of their first four seasons.

INJURIES

Steelers: FB Derek Watt went to the locker room with a possible concussion in the first quarter and was ruled out. TE Eric Ebron suffered a back injury in the second quarter and did not return.

Bengals: Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati’s top receiver, left in the first quarter with a concussion.

UP NEXT

Steelers: Host Indianapolis on Sunday.

Bengals: Visit the Houston Texans on Sunday.

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Follow Mitch Stacy at https://twitter.com/mitchstacy

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Jets’ Laine to sit second straight game Tuesday vs. Senators – Sportsnet.ca

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The Winnipeg Jets will be without the services of sniper Patrik Laine on Tuesday for the second straight game as they open a three-game series versus the Ottawa Senators, per Sportsnet‘s Ken Wiebe.

Coach Paul Maurice told reporters Laine received treatment for his upper-body injury Tuesday morning, but he won’t be making any changes to his skaters from Monday’s 3-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Laine was previously listed as day-to-day.

Laurent Brossoit will get the start in net against the Senators, stepping in for reigning Vezina winner Connor Hellebuyck.

The Jets play at Ottawa on Tuesday and Thursday, before hosting the Senators on Saturday.

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Senators’ Tim Stützle day-to-day with minor injury, won’t play vs. Jets – Sportsnet.ca

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The Ottawa Senators say rookie forward Tim Stützle is day-to-day with a minor injury and won’t suit up for Tuesday night’s matchup vs. the Winnipeg Jets.

It is unclear how or when he suffered the injury.

The 19-year-old, who was selected third overall in the 2020 NHL Draft, recorded 14:52 minutes in ice time during a 3-2 loss to the Maple Leafs on Saturday, scoring his first NHL goal in highlight-reel fashion.

Through two games, Stützle has one point and four shots on goal.

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Pettersson given max fine for Monahan slash – TSN

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety levied a number of fines for infractions on Tuesday morning, including one to Vancouver Canucks star Elias Pettersson.

Pettersson, 22, was handed a $3,987.07 fine – the maximum allowed under the CBA – for a slash to Calgary Flames forward Sean Monahan.

The incident occurred late in the second period of Calgary’s 5-2 victory on Monday night. Pettersson was given a two-minute high-sticking penalty for the play.

Also fined on Tuesday was Philadelphia Flyers forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

Aube-Kubel, 24, was also fined the maximum allowable penalty – $4,633.62 in this instance – for roughing Buffalo Sabres defenceman Rasmus Dahlin. The play in question occurred in the final minutes of the Sabres’ 6-1 blowout victory on Monday night. Aube-Kubel received a double minor for high-sticking on the play.

Greg Pateryn also received a maximum fine on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old Minnesota Wild defenceman was given a $5,000 fine for a cross-check to Anaheim Ducks forward Sonny Milano.

The incident occurred during the Ducks’ 1-0 win on Monday night. No penalty was assessed on the play.

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