The Pittsburgh Steelers intercepted five passes, two for touchdowns by Dwayne Woodruff and Donnie Shell, to rout Cincinnati, 38-17, tonight and keep the Bengals winless through their fifth game of the NFL season.
The Steelers twice scored two touchdowns in a minute's span as Woodruff and Shell each intercepted two of Turk Schonert's passes. Schonert was the Cincinnati quarterback from late in the scoreless first quarter, after Ken Anderson was sacked on two straight plays and left because of back spasms.
Rookie Boomer Esiason relieved Schonert late in the game.
The first interception was by cornerback Sam Washington, off Anderson; it was Washington's league-high sixth interception of the season and marked his fourth consecutive game with at least one.
Woodruff's 42-yard return of Schonert's pass with 12:02 left in the first half gave the Steelers (3-2, AFC Central leaders) a 14-0 lead. It came just over a minute after rookie running back Rich Erenberg raced 31 yards for the first touchdown.
Another Steelers' rookie, Weegie Thompson, combined with quarterback David Woodley on a 23-yard scoring pass play for a 24-10 lead late in the third quarter.
The Steelers' defense set up two more touchdowns within 25 seconds after the Bengals closed to 24-17.
After Woodruff again intercepted Schonert, Walter Abercrombie ran five yards for a touchdown with 4:48 remaining. Shell then recorded the 38th interception of his career -- the most of any active NFL player -- and returned it 52 yards to score with 4:23 to go as the Steelers built their division lead to two games over the Cleveland Browns (1-4). It was Shell's first touchdown return of an interception.
This was the second time in as many seasons that the Steelers knocked Anderson out of a Monday night game with a first-period injury.
The Steelers' victory was their fourth in as many tries against the Bengals in the NFL's weekly Monday night game.