Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Xavier Grimble (85) dives in in the end zone for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on September 18, 2016. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo
PITTSBURGH -- Xavier Grimble has never had to guess what the Pittsburgh Steelers want or expect from their tight ends, not after the recent successful tenures of Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth.
Grimble, undrafted out of Southern Cal, bounced around for a couple of years before the Steelers became the fourth team to take a chance on him, signing him after last season.
Sunday, Grimble pulled in the first touchdown of his career, a 20-yarder from Ben Roethlisberger to open the scoring in a 24-16 Pittsburgh win over the Bengals.
"There's a great standard here," Grimble said. "From the day I stepped in here, I was (in the shadow of) Heath Miller and Matt Speath. I just tried to understand what it means to be a tight end here. I made sure going forward that I would do everything to try to emulate those standards, be the best version of myself."
Fellow tight end Jesse James also had a touchdown catch from Roethlisberger, and David Johnson had a 5-yard reception.
"We're not waiting for Heath or Spaeth to come back. They're still legends, and we appreciate what they did for us," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "These are guys who play for us now. They're capable, and we have a great deal of confidence in them, and they delivered."
No one was more thrilled about that than Roethlisberger, who was 19 of 37 for 259 yards passing.
"The tight ends? How great were they?" he said. "I thought guys stepped up when they needed to, and I was happy to see it."
--Keeping it between the whistles
The Steelers and Bengals have developed a nasty rivalry, one that last year resulted in not only harsh feelings but also more than $200,000 fines from the NFL and a suspension that kept Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict out of Sunday's game.
While no one was claiming to have brokered any truces, the extracurricular activity was essentially non-existent Sunday.
"I don't think anyone's trying to do stuff after the whistle," Steelers guard David DeCastro said. "Everyone's trying to be professional. Guys have jobs, families. You don't want to do anything stupid to get anyone hurt."
A steady rain fell through much of the first quarter and again in the fourth quarter. It seemed to affect both offenses, particularly early on.
Neither side, though, was ready to admit that.
"I don't want to blame things on the weather," Tomlin said. "We're an all-weather group; we're just allergic to lightning.
"(The Bengals) did some things to make our output look the way that it looked, but I would be less genuine if I didn't give them credit."
Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton likewise was not blaming slippery conditions for some dropped passes and unsure footing that plagued both sides.
"Obviously, when it's raining, it is different than when it's not raining," said Dalton, who was 31 of 54 for 366 yards and one touchdown, much of that coming as Cincinnati went heavily to the passing game as it tried to come back.
"I thought our guys handled it well. I thought I handled it well. That's part of it."
--Bengals slow Brown
On the flip side of the tight ends' contribution to the Steelers passing game was a slow day for Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown, who had four catches for 39 yards and no touchdowns.
The four-time Pro Bowler had eight catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 1 win against Washington.
"How many yards did he have today? How many touchdowns?" Cincinnati cornerback Adam Jones said. "Looks like we did our job."
--Boyd back in the 'Burgh
Tyler Boyd played at Heinz Field as a University of Pittsburgh receiver, so the game against the Steelers had a familiar feel -- to a point.
"Felt really good, but it felt different since I was the visiting guy this time," said Boyd, a Bengals second-round draft pick earlier this year. "At the end of the day, I play for the Bengals, and I wanted to perform for my team. I don't have a number for you, but I know tons of friends and family were here supporting me."
Boyd had six catches for 78 yards. He also turned the ball over on a fumble late in the fourth quarter.
--Oldie but goodie
Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams had 94 rushing yards and 38 more receiving, giving him 10,044 yards from scrimmage in his career. He became the 13th active NFL player to top 10,000 yards from scrimmage.
After the game, he offered a familiar if light-hearted criticism of reporters for bringing up his longevity.
"Somebody said in the locker room, 'You're either old or you are good -- which one are you?'" said Williams, 33. "And I was like, 'I don't know, but if the media has anything to say, I am old.'"