Two AFC North rivals battle for one slot in the playoffs as the Cincinnati Bengals host the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Paul Brown Stadium in the Wildcard Playoff battle.
Ben Roethlisberger came off the bench to lead the winning drive after being carted off the field with a right shoulder injury earlier in the second half. It was remarkable he was able to come back into the game after sustaining the shoulder injury on the final play of the third quarter.
Cincinnati ripped off 16 straight points, the last six on a 25-yard strike from McCarron to A.J. Green that put the Bengals in front with only 1:50 to go.
By the time Roethlisberger returned to the sideline from the locker room with just more than five minutes left in the game, the Bengals struck to trail by just five.
When Burfict intercepted Landry Jones on Pittsburgh’s possession after Green’s score, Cincinnati and Lewis appeared ready to end the sixth-longest postseason drought in National Football League history.
Halfbacks Fitzgerald Toussaint (38 yards) and Jordan Todman (35) were reasonably successful for the Steelers in the first half. The quarterback and the Bengals have remained hopeful Dalton could potentially return for a game if ext week able to win this weekend but that still isn’t a certainty
“Our defense played their butts off and made an interception that pretty much sewed up the game”, Hill said. With the Steelers dominating the line of scrimmage and the Bengals offense completely ineffective behind AJ McCarron, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was not called on to make big plays downfield.
Then Jeremy Hill was stripped of the ball by Ryan Shazier while trying to run out the clock. Then the Bengals let their game get out of control.
The Steelers might be without star receiver Antonio Brown, who sustained a concussion after taking a shot to the head on the final drive Saturday night. That’s huge, because teams that win the turnover battle most often win the game
The Bengals have managed to stay relatively healthy this season, but they have lost their starting quarterback Andy Dalton to a broken thumb.
The dual penalties against the Bengals gave the Steelers a first down at Cincinnati’s 16 with 18 seconds left. It looked like we might have another when the Steeler’s Martavis Bryant made a mind-boggling 10-yard catch in the end zone that sent him hurtling head-over-heels over the pylon with the football affixed to his rear end.
The Steelers survived this one, but the Roethlisberger injury could have far bigger ramifications for team that many considered to be the most unsafe team in the AFC playoff field. The Bengals scored all their points in the fourth quarter.