CINCINNATI -- A rookie quarterback, a game on the line. No better time for the Steelers' defense to get back to what it does best.
Grab the ball.
The Steelers (7-3) ended the Bengals' five-game winning streak with a little vintage defense, something missing so far this season. The Steelers had only two interceptions and two fumble recoveries heading into Sunday's game, a stunningly small statistic for these players who pride themselves on getting the ball.
They got it twice when it mattered most.
"We're a great defense because of the way we play," safety Ryan Clark said. "Turnovers tend to come in spurts. That's what separates teams from being a great defense. Today, we were able to help us win it." It all came together in a game the Steelers badly needed to stay in the middle of AFC North contention.
Ben Roethlisberger led long, balanced drives while thousands of Steelers fans waved Terrible Towels amid the first sellout crowd of the season at Paul Brown Stadium. Mendenhall's 9-yard run put the Steelers' up 24-17 late in the third quarter, leaving it to the defense to finish off the win.
First, linebacker Lawrence Timmons picked off a deflected pass, ending a drive at the Pittsburgh 33. William Gay pulled off the clincher, stepping in front of Jerome Simpson for an interception at the 19-yard line with 2:27 left.
"It was two big plays that helped change the game," linebacker James Farrior said. "It was awesome. I'm especially proud of William Gay. You guys and even some of our fans really got on him this week."
Gay let Torrey Smith get behind him for a 26-yard touchdown catch with 8 seconds left in Baltimore's 23-20 win at Pittsburgh last Sunday.