CINCINNATI, NOV. 18 -- A week off evidently was just the right remedy for the Cincinnati Bengals.

They broke a slide of four losses in five games by beating Pittsburgh, 27-3, tonight to take back first place in the AFC Central Division.

Barney Bussey had a 70-yard return with Louis Lipps's fumble and made a goal-line tackle. Ickey Woods and Craig Taylor had short touchdown runs, and Boomer Esiason ran an offense that didn't punt until 4:05 was left in the third quarter.

The win was Cincinnati's fifth straight over Pittsburgh and put the Bengals at 6-4, a game ahead of Houston and the Steelers. The last three times the Steelers have played at Riverfront Stadium, they have lost by a combined 109-20.

Everything went well for Cincinnati. James Brooks gained 105 yards on 20 carries, the most rushing yardage for a Bengal this year, and Cincinnati went without a penalty until 6:49 was left in the game.

Ahead, 10-0, the Bengals averted a Steelers score with 29 seconds left in the half when officials ruled that holder Jim Stryzinski was stopped inches short of a touchdown as he ran on a fake field goal.