One of the NFL's top defenses had given him a big opening.
"I saw green grass," said Bernard, a second-round pick from North Carolina. "Once you see green grass, you've got to take it. You don't get many chances like that. When you do, you've got to take it."
"Gio's done a good job," Dalton said. "We drafted him to be versatile, move around the backfield and make big plays. And that's exactly what we've gotten out him."
The Bengals piled up 407 yards on one of the NFL's toughest defenses, holding the ball for more than 35 minutes.
The Steelers fell to 0-2 for the first time since 2002, done in by another game of self-destruction on offense. Pittsburgh had two turnovers in scoring range and couldn't hold the ball long enough to give their defense a breather, failing to get a first down on seven of their 12 possessions.
"There's not a lot of positives going on right now," said Ben Roethlisberger, who was 20 of 37 for 251 yards with one touchdown and a deflected interception. "We can't start doubting each other. Right now, there's a general feeling of being upset."
Cincinnati is 10-20 in Monday night games.
The Bengals put the ball in the Dalton's hands in the first half, letting him pass away while they all but abandoned the run against one of the NFL's top defenses. Dalton had an up-and-down game, finishing 25 of 45 for 280 yards.
Cincinnati's rookies provided the big plays.
The Steelers needed to get their offense moving after a horrid opener. They ran for only 32 yards and Roethlisberger was sacked five times during a 16-9 home loss to Tennessee. Worse, the Steelers lost Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey for the rest of the season with a torn knee ligament. Fernando Velasco, signed a week earlier, started in his place Monday.
They weren't significantly better in Cincinnati.
Notes: The Bengals rushed for 127 yards, with BenJarvus Green-Ellis getting 75 on 22 carries. Bernard ran eight times for 38 yards. ... The Bengals have consecutive wins over the Steelers for the first time since 2009. ... Roethlisberger was sacked twice by a defense that failed to get one in Chicago.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press