Rodney Heath made two first-half interceptions, one for a touchdown and the other setting up a score, and Cincinnati nearly blew a big lead again before holding off slumping Pittsburgh, 27-20, today.
The Bengals (2-10) have won only three of their last 23, and need one more loss for the most losses (107) by a NFL team in a decade. But they beat the Steelers for the third time in two seasons, two of them in Three Rivers Stadium.
"The buzzard flew away today, and we had Lady Luck on our side," said linebacker Takeo Spikes, who recovered a fumble for one of Pittsburgh's three first-half turnovers.
Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart, who has struggled all season, threw the two interceptions to Heath and then was replaced by backup Mike Tomczak.
Steelers Coach Bill Cowher said Tomczak will start Thursday at Jacksonville, with Stewart at least temporarily reviving his "Slash" role as a part-time wide receiver and quarterback.
Stewart has six touchdown passes in his last 15 starts, and is being booed so much he calls himself "Pittsburgh's public enemy number one."
"I'm not playing the way I can, so I can't complain about it," Stewart said. "As much as it hurts, I understand."
The Bengals, who squandered a 14-point margin last week in losing to Baltimore, 34-31, opened a 24-3 lead today behind the turnovers, Jeff Blake's passing and Corey Dillon's 120 yards rushing. Then they held off a comeback led by Tomczak.
Tomczak, in his first extensive playing time since 1996, was 19 for 35 for 264 yards and two touchdowns. But the Steelers (5-6) still lost to a one-win team at home for the second time in three weeks. Cleveland upset them, 16-15, on Nov. 14.
The Steelers have lost three in a row and are only 1-4 at Three Rivers Stadium, where they were 45-9 under Cowher before losing six of their last seven.
Cowher denied after the game he wants to get out of the remaining three years on his contract and coach elsewhere.
Cowher labeled as "ludicrous" published reports he wants to coach expansion Houston or move into the "Monday Night Football" booth. Cowher coached his hometown Steelers to the playoffs every year from 1992-97, but is 12-15 the last two seasons.
CAPTION: Mike Tomczak loses confrontation with Steve Foley (95), but played well enough to be named starting quarterback.