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Wild 18-16 Win in Cincinnati Advances Steelers to AFC Divisional Round

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When the Bengals took their first lead of the night with 1:56 to play, and then on the following Steelers offensive play Landry Jones threw a bad interception, most Steelers fans declared the season over.

While the team had all three time outs, it was at least going to be 19-15 Bengals after they ran the ball three times and then kicked a field.

Instead, it was an ending for the ages.

In the span of the final 1:36, the Steelers pulled off one of the most wild miracles a team ever could, getting the benefit of 30 Bengals penalty yards, and Chris Boswell’s 35-yard field goal with 14 seconds left gave the Steelers an 18-16 win that advances them to an AFC Divisional Playoff game next week against the #1 seeded Denver Broncos.

If you missed it, trust me, find a way to watch the replay at some point this week on NFL Network. It was a game that no one will ever soon forget.

The Steelers blew a 15-0 lead in the final quarter, played most of the last quarter without their franchise quarterback, and then in a scene out of the old west, their gunslinger came back in to save the day with the help of some penalties on the Bengals that allowed the Steelers to get into field goal range in the final seconds.

The play that everyone will talk about took place with the Steelers at the Bengals 47-yard line with :22 seconds left.

Ben Roethlisberger threw a pass that went high, intended for Antonio Brown. Bengals bigmouth and cheap shot linebacker Vontaze Burfict drew a huge 15-yard penalty for a cheap shot to the head of a defenseless Brown.

While that would have been enough to get Boswell into range, Adam Jones helped out when he lost his cool in the aftermath, pushing an official and adding another 15 yards to make it a much easier field goal for Boswell, who kicked it down the middle.

All in all, it was a complete breakdown of discipline with the game on the line, and it was a typical Bengal playoff collapse, and one that won’t be soon forgotten.

504230944It also dropped Bengals coach Marvin Lewis to 0-7 in the playoffs, the worst record in playoff history.

Back to the Steelers, who you have to credit for finding a way, but also have to be concerned about in regard to how this team is going to able to go toe-to-toe with the Broncos, who will have Peyton Manning under center in Denver.

Brown ended the game with a concussion according to NFL.com, and Big Ben’s shoulder is going to be a major story and what he’s going to be able to do during the week and in Denver Sunday.

On the positive side, the Steelers run game was effective with two backs who many never felt would have much of an impact on this team. Fitzgerald Toussaint had 58 yards rushing and 60 yards receiving and Jordan Todman had 65 yards on the ground.

Those two combined to help the Steelers run for 167 yards, 5.8 yards per carry, and help dominate the game and eventually help the Steelers build a 15-0 lead before the injury to Ben.

That injury took place when Burfict fell on Ben’s shoulder late in the third quarter that sent the QB to the locker room. That’s then the

Bengals and quarterback A.J. McCarron began their comeback.

Jeremy Hill’s one-yard touchdown made it 15-7 one minute into the fourth quarter, and then a Mike Nugent 36-yard field goal with 5:17 to play made it 15-10.

Green’s touchdown gave the Bengals their first lead of the night with 1:56 to play, and when Jones threw a bad pick that Burfict hauled in, it looked like the season was over.

But hold everything.

The Steelers got the ball on Hill’s fumble on the very next play, and Roethlisberger came back in, giving all he had to help the team (even converting a fourth down) to get close enough for Boswell to kick the game-winning field goal.

It was a win that won’t be soon forgotten, and a sweet one considering all the bad blood between the two teams over their recent history.

The Steelers and Broncos will meet in the Divisional round on Sunday, January 17th at 4:40pm.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. DaveB.

    January 10, 2016 at 10:23 am

    How ironic that two of the biggest thugs in the NFL , BOTH of which plays for the Bengals , ended up costing them their season . Adam Pac Man Jones , who has a wrap sheet as long as youre leg and Vontaze Burrfect who is hands down the dirtiest cheap shot artist in the game today ended up destroying what had been a great season for the Bengals . The rediculous hit by Burrfect on Antonio Brown at the end of the game should warrant no less than a two game suspension next season . It was totally uncalled for and it was obvious he was trying to take Brown out . Theres no place for that in the game today and if the league is really serious about player safety , then Burrfect has to be suspended . With that being said , all Steeler fans need to pray that Ben is able to go next week in Denver . If he is , we have a shot . If he isnt , we have no shot , its as simple as that . Ben showed once again last night , he is the heart , the soul and the motor that drives this team . After what easily could have been a broke collar bone , Ben gave one helluva gutsy performance on the last drive to get the team in field goal position to win the game . One last note . The classy Bengal fans that were throwing cans and bottles at Ben as he was being carted back to the locker room after being injured , you really out did yourselves . You came across as what you really are , spineless , gutless , cowards who would throw projectiles at an injured player while being helped from the field . Bottom line , you reap what you sew Bengals fans and last night you got yours . Good riddance .

  2. DrGeorge

    January 10, 2016 at 11:17 am

    It was an unexpected upset victory for Pittsburgh in Cincinnati, and a hard fought game on both sides, marred throughout by extracurricular hits, hostilities, and penalties (221 yards worth, more than half of them on Pittsburgh). Both defenses played well and aggressively; it was perhaps the best game of the year for the Steelers’ defense. Both offenses were stymied most of the night.

    It was a team victory, which makes it difficult to decide who deserves the game ball. One might favor Chris Boswell, since he scored most of the points with his field goals, but somehow that doesn’t do justice to the team effort. One might favor the O-line and our two running backs, Toussaint and Todman, who rushed for 167 yards, more than anyone expected, except that when the chips were down in the second half, we ran the ball only half-heartedly and failed to duplicate the rushing success of the first half, largely due to Haley’s play calling. One might give the ball to the defense for its much improved play, except that it couldn’t hold the lead in the second half and let a backup QB carve up their prevent zone defense. One might give it to Ben R. for his gutsy play on the final drive, except that he previously took three sacks, threw an interception and should have been picked at least twice more, had a 3rd down efficiencyof 2 for 13, and failed to score TDs when the team reached the red zone. Not game ball proficiency.

    Which leaves us with only one logical choice: I hereby award my game ball to Burffict and Jones of the Cincinnati defense for their lack of discipline and unsportsmanlike hits that resulted in the key penalties down the stretch that allowed the Steelers to kick the winning field goal. Through their boneheaded actions – which will probably earn the first a suspension and the latter a fine – Cincinnati snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. In failing to curb his team’s rampant misconduct and failing to win a playoff game yet again, though highly favored, Marvin Lewis may have seen his last day as a Cincinnati head coach and will, in any event, have questions to answer for the misconduct of his thugs and for once again under-performing in his home stadium with the support of a vocal and rabid crowd.

    Before the game, I argued here that the only way Pittsburgh could win this game was if Cincinnati gave it away as a belated Christmas present. That’s precisely what happened. They gave it away. A late Merry Christmas, Gold and Black – the bungling Bengals have done it again.

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