CINCINNATI — Andy Dalton’s right thumb hurt a bit as he came to the sideline. He gripped a football to gauge how much he had hurt his passing hand while making a tackle.

One painful squeeze told him something was badly wrong.

Dalton broke his thumb while making a tackle after his interception Sunday, turning Cincinnati’s season upside-down in an instant. With a chance to clinch the AFC North at home, the Bengals lost their quarterback and got blown out, too.

The Pittsburgh Steelers battered backup AJ McCarron while pulling away to a 33-20 victory that left the division and the top AFC playoff seed up for grabs.

“It’s huge frustration,” left tackle Andrew Whitworth said.

Cincinnati (10-3) is just waiting to see how long it will be without Dalton, who had the NFL’s top passer rating heading into the game. He will see a specialist Monday to get a better idea of the treatment options.

“Mentally I’m fine,” said Dalton, wearing a black cast. “It’s unfortunate it happened at this point in the season. I’m doing all right. There are a lot of people who are way worse off than I am.”

The Steelers (8-5) rumbled with the Bengals during pregame warmups and then led the whole way, sending Cincinnati to its first lopsided loss of the season.

William Gay returned one of McCarron’s passes 23 yards for a touchdown, and Ben Roethlisberger had another good day as Pittsburgh’s resurgent offense kept rolling. Pittsburgh has scored 30 points in five straight games, a franchise record.

PANTHERS 38, FALCONS 0: Cam Newton added to his MVP resume, completing 15 of 21 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns, and Carolina (13-0) defeated visiting Atlanta (6-7) to clinch a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs.

Newton connected on scoring strikes of 74 and 46 yards to Ted Ginn Jr., and Jonathan Stewart ran for a touchdown as the Panthers scored on their first three possessions.

Newton also threw a 4-yard TD pass to Ed Dickson in the final seconds of the first half before leaving for good at the end of the third quarter, and the Panthers won their 17th straight regular-season game.

Atlanta has dropped six in a row.

PACKERS 28, COWBOYS 7: Eddie Lacy ran for 124 yards and a touchdown, and fellow running back James Starks added two scores for Green Bay (9-4) against visiting Dallas (4-9).

SEAHAWKS 35, RAVENS 6: Russell Wilson threw five touchdown passes, three to Doug Baldwin, and Seattle (8-5) rolled to a win at injury-depleted Baltimore (4-9).

Wilson was 23 of 32 for 292 yards. The five TD throws matched a career high and gave him 16 over his last four games.

EAGLES 23, BILLS 20: Caleb Sturgis kicked a 30-yard field goal with 3:26 left, then Ed Reynolds intercepted Tyrod Taylor’s pass in the final minutes as Philadelphia (6-7) beat visiting Buffalo (6-7) to remain tied for first place in the NFC East.

WASHINGTON 24, BEARS 21: Kirk Cousins threw for 300 yards and a touchdown and Washington (6-7) ended a nine-game road losing streak as Robbie Gould missed yet another late field goal for Chicago (5-8).

JAGUARS 51, COLTS 16: Blake Bortles threw for three touchdowns and ran for a score – all in the second half – and Jacksonville (5-8) won at home, ending a 16-game winning streak in the AFC South for Indianapolis (6-7).

CHIEFS 10, CHARGERS 3: Kansas City (8-5) kept visiting San Diego (3-10) out of the end zone twice in the final seconds to earn a seventh consecutive win.

JETS 30, TITANS 8: Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three touchdown passes and New York (8-5) beat visiting Tennessee (3-10) to stay on track in the AFC playoff race with their first three-game winning streak since 2011.

SAINTS 24, BUCCANEERS 17: Drew Brees threw a pair of TD passes to Marques Colston and New Orleans (5-8) stopped a four-game losing streak with a win at Tampa Bay (6-7).

BROWNS 24, 49ERS 10: Johnny Manziel shook off a first-half interception in his first start since being benched for off-field antics, and Cleveland (3-10) snapped a seven-game losing streak with a win over visiting San Francisco (4-9).

RAMS 21, LIONS 14: Todd Gurley ran for 140 yards and two second-half touchdowns, and St. Louis (5-8) beat visiting Detroit (4-9) to end a five-game losing streak.