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James Conner and Tyler Boyd face off in AFC North battle

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The former Pitt stars gave their offenses a spark in Sunday’s division mathcup

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Former Pitt stars James Conner and Tyler Boyd faced off on Sunday in an AFC North matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, and they played key roles on their respective offenses in a game that came down to the last minute.

Boyd opened up the scoring for the Bengals late in the first quarter, reeling in a dart from quarterback Andy Dalton and tiptoeing into the end zone for a touchdown. However, Conner responded in kind in the second quarter, punctuating two drives with one-yard rushes over the goal line to give the Steelers a 14-7 advantage.

But Boyd would get the final word in the Pitt duo’s back and forth, as he hauled in a 14-yard pass from Dalton to tie the game just before the end of the first half.

By the end of the game, Conner would come out on top statistically, as he amassed 129 yards and two touchdowns on 23 touches, including 111 rushing yards. Boyd ended up with 62 yards and two scores on seven catches after he was targeted nine times. And ultimately, the Steelers won 28-21 on a late touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown.

Conner’s performance gives the Steelers a lot to consider with longtime holdout Le’Veon Bell reportedly set to return during the team’s Week 7 bye. Although he could find himself immediately bumped from the first team upon Bell’s arrival, the vocal support of the team’s stars and his third 100-yard rushing game may give the Steelers’ decision-makers pause.

Boyd, on the other hand, continues to solidify himself as the Bengals’ clear No. 2 receiver behind A.J. Green, and his latest performance only benefited him in his effort to hold onto that role.

Both Conner and Boyd are on pace for career seasons at this point, and if they continue to put on performances like the ones they treated fans to on Sunday, they may soon transition from rising stars to vital components of their respective teams.