It wasn’t pretty, but the Cincinnati Bengals (9-6) are heading back to the playoffs while sending the Steelers (7-8) home with a 13-10 win at Heinz Field. It’s the first time the Bengals qualified for back to back playoff berths in thirty years since the 1981-82 seasons.
The game looked like it was heading into overtime until Josh Brown nailed a 43-yard field goal with four seconds left to go.
The Steelers initially looked to be driving towards the game winner until Reggie Nelson picked off Ben Roethlisberger and ran it back to the Steelers 46-yard line with 14 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. On the next play, Andy Dalton connected with A.J. Green on a pass play for 21-yards that helped set up the game winning field goal.
“This has been our goal coming in at the beginning of the season,” Green said. “A lot of people talked about we hadn’t been in in back to back seasons in 30 years. I don’t worry about that stuff. I’ve been here two years and we made the playoffs all two years. That’s all we can control.”
The win snapped a five-game losing streak to the Steelers, dating back to 2009 when the Bengals swept the Steelers, going undefeated within the division. Meanwhile, the Steelers need a victory over the Cleveland Browns just to avoid a losing season.
“Not our day and thus, not our year,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. “Just not enough significant plays at the moments. Sounds like a broken record but reality as we sit here.”
Ben Roethlisberger was 14-of-28 for 220-yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions, both interceptions being very costly.
The first was on a 3rd & 4 in the first quarter when Leon Hall picked off Roethlisberger and returned it 17-yards for a touchdown to open the game for the Bengals with a 7-0 lead.
“We should be (in the playoffs) if it wasn’t for me,” Roethlisberger said.
The Bengals added a field goal to take a 10-0 lead and nearly picked a shutout for the first half until Big Ben finally got the Steelers on the board when he threw a bomb to Antonio Brown for a 60-yard touchdown right before halftime to cut the Bengals lead to 10-7.
The Steelers tied the game at 10-10 when kicker Shaun Suisham kicked a 40-yard field goal.
The Steelers defense held the Bengals offense in check all game, not allowing an offensive touchdown and only yielding two field goals. Steelers Defense sacked Andy Dalton six times and created three turnovers. Bengals running back BenJarvis Ellis-Green was also held to 14-yards on 15 carries.
But the Steelers weren’t the only team on the field that brought the defense to the game. Aside from picking off Roethlisberger for two crucial interceptions, they also sacked Big Ben four times while allowing the Steelers offense to convert 3rd-down just twice out of fourteen attempts.
But before the final outcome of the game, the outcome swung in different directions. The first game with 3:18 left when Josh Brown attempted a 56-yard field goal but wasn’t close. With the wind swirling up, Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis tried to win the game right there instead of punting the ball to pin the Steelers deep.
“I make decisions to try to win the game today and they kind of backfired on me a little bit,” Lewis said.
The game when on until Suisham attempted a 53-yard game-winning field goal with 1:51 left to play but fell short. But the Steelers defense held and got the ball back until Roethlisberger’s second interception by Reggie Nelson set up the game-winning field goal for the Bengals.
On the 40th Anniversary of the “Immaculate Reception” the Steelers had one final hope, with three seconds left Roethlisberger dumped the ball off to Isaac Redman, but was unable to find Franco Harris when he lateralled the ball back at mid-field, instead it went into the hands of Bengals defender Terrance Newman and that ended the game.
The Bengals will host the AFC North Division Champion Baltimore Ravens next week.
- Cincinnati’s 14 yards rushing were the second-fewest in franchise history. The Bengals had 4 yards rushing against Baltimore in 2000.
- Five of Pittsburgh’s eight losses this season have come by three points
- A.J. Green hauled in 10 receptions for 116-yards
- Rashard Mendenhall who probably played his last game in a Steelers uniform had 50-yards on 11 carries.
- Geno Atkins has 11.5 sacks for the season, the most by a Bengal since Defensive End Eddie Edwards had 13 in 1983.
- The last Bengals win in Pittsburgh was an 18-12 win in 2009.
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