Bettis bowled over tacklers and provided the only semblance of offense by either team, rushing for 111 yards and two touchdowns Sunday as the Pittsburgh Steelers churned out a 17-3 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Led by defensive end Orpheus Roye, the NFL's second-ranked defense made a 14-3 halftime lead stand up by stopping Cincinnati on the ground and making sure that Smith's second start was nothing like his first.
The Steelers (3-3) intercepted Smith twice, sacked him four times, batted down four throws at the line and got their hands on 13 of his throws overall. He finished 19-of-38 for 207 yards.
After leading a game-winning drive last week in Cleveland, Smith pounded his chest at the Browns bench and taunted the Dawg Pound by running his hand across his neck in a slashing motion. The rookie had nothing to gloat about Sunday.
"I played poorly. There's nothing else to say," Smith said. "I was in a position to make plays and I didn't make them. I didn't execute the offense. I didn't see the field well."
The only throat-slashing gestures came from Roye, who ran his hand across his neck to celebrate his sack and his interception at the Steelers' 4-yard line late in the game.
Asked if it had anything to do with Smith's theatrics in Cleveland, Roye smiled and said, "Naw, it's just a little thing I do."
Bettis, off to his slowest start as a pro, scored on runs of 1 and 5 yards in the first half. His first 100-yard rushing ame of the season compensated for another shaky performance by Kordell Stewart, who completed 17 of 29 for 134 yards.
Stewart was coming his best game of the season 21-for-29 for 216 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to Buffalo.
"Based on how I played in Buffalo and today, I was a different player," Stewart said. "Today we made some great throws and catches but when we needed them, we didn't get them. Last week was a little better Kordell than today, but today we won and that's all that matters."
They won because of Bettis, who missed training camp because of knee surgery. He looked like "The Bus" for the first time all season.
"Anybody who has been to our practices could see that he ran like the Jerome Bettis of old," coach Bill Cowher said. "I think he's felt healthier. This is the best he's felt, so it didn't surprise me that he had the game he had."
He ran for 100 yards even though the Steelers lost Pro Bowl center Dermontti Dawson to a pulled hamstring on their third possession. Bettis carried 26 times and wore down a defense stacked at the line of scrimmage to stop him.
Bettis, held to 24 yards on 13 carries in Buffalo, nearly equaled that total on a 23-yard run in the third quarter, his longest run of the season.
"I felt confident," said Bettis, who averaged 4.3 yards per carry. "We had a great week in practice running the ball. It all started to come together."
On defense, the Steelers chose to drop in disguised coverages rather than blitz Smith, who couldn't find the holes often enough to move the offense. It could have been much worse the Steelers dropped several balls thrown right to them and had one interception overruled by replay.
"We probably should have had five interceptions," said Dewayne Washington, who picked off Smith's second pass of the game. "We played pretty much the same coverages we always do. We just disguised a lot."
A series late in the first half was the Bengals' season in a microcosm. Smith's 23-yard touchdown pass to Marco Battaglia was wiped out by an interference penalty. Doug Pelfrey then made a 36-yard field goal that was negated by holding.
Pelfrey was wide right on a 46-yard try, but got another chance because of a Steelers penalty. Pelfrey's 36-yard kick was wide left, his fifth miss in his last 10 attempts.
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