NFL Game Summary - Cincinnati at Pittsburgh|
(Sunday, December 23rd)
Final Score: Cincinnati 13, Pittsburgh 10
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - The Cincinnati Bengals accomplished a feat
they hadn't achieved in three decades. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, however,
they'll now have to wait until next year.
Josh Brown booted a 43-yard field goal with four seconds remaining to give
Cincinnati a 13-10 victory over the Steelers at Heinz Field, vaulting the
Bengals into the playoffs while eliminating their AFC North rival in the
Cincinnati (9-6), an AFC wild card entry a year ago, last reached the playoffs
in consecutive seasons in 1981 and 1982. The Bengals will be one again this
postseason, as Baltimore clinched the AFC North with its win over the New York
Giants on Sunday. Cincinnati is locked into the sixth seed.
Brown's clutch kick came one play after Andy Dalton and A.J. Green connected
on a 21-yard pass to the Pittsburgh 25, and two after Bengals safety Reggie
Nelson intercepted Ben Roethlisberger near midfield with 14 seconds remaining
"Huge team win," said Dalton. "It's exactly what we needed to have happen, we
needed everybody to play well. Our defense played great, giving us good field
position and different things. Obviously (on) offense there's areas we can
improve, but it feels good to get the win."
Roethlisberger was picked off twice on the afternoon, with Leon Hall returning
the first 17 yards for Cincinnati's lone touchdown of the game back in the
first quarter. He finished just 14-of-28 for 220 yards and one touchdown in
the loss, the third straight and fifth in six games for the spiraling Steelers
"We had a chance to win the game, and I blew it," Roethlisberger said
Dalton finished with 278 yards on 24-of-41 passing and was also intercepted
twice, with Green amassing 116 yards on 10 catches to help the resurgent
Bengals to their sixth triumph in their last seven outings.
The teams remained locked in a 10-10 stalemate all throughout the fourth
quarter, with both Brown and Pittsburgh counterpart Shaun Suisham coming up
short on would-be go-ahead field goal tries from beyond 50 yards away in the
final four minutes. The Steelers would get the ball back one last time with 44
seconds left, and chose to play for the win.
The move would backfire, however, when Roethlisberger floated a deep pass for
Mike Wallace down the right sideline that was plucked by Nelson, with the
Cincinnati safety scampering 10 yards before being knocked out at the
Dalton dropped back on the next snap and fired a dart to Green along the right
sideline, with the second-year standout keeping his feet in bounds at the
Steelers' 25 with eight seconds still on the clock.
"It was exactly what we were looking for," Dalton said. "They were playing
(Green) soft and he was able to cross the corner's face, and I was able to
throw it where only A.J. could catch it."
Brown was immediately summoned and calmly split the uprights to secure
Cincinnati's spot in the postseason.
"(The wind) did what we thought it was going to do," said Brown of the kick.
The wind was going right-to-left and I put it inside the right upright."
Cincinnati mustered only 88 yards and six first downs on offense during the
first half, but still carried a 10-7 lead into the break in part due to a pair
of critical Pittsburgh mistakes.
The first came from Roethlisberger, who threw into traffic for Heath Miller
and was picked off by Hall near his own end. The Cincinnati corner then side-
stepped his way to a 17-yard touchdown for the game's first points.
Pittsburgh marched deep into Bengals' territory on the ensuing possession,
highlighted by a 20-yard run by Rashard Mendenhall that placed the Steelers
into the red zone. Head coach Mike Tomlin would opt for a short field goal
attempt on 4th-and-1 later on, but Suisham shanked a 24-yard try to the left
in what turned out to be a very damaging miss.
Cincinnati ended up with good field position following an exchange of punts,
and a 23-yard shovel toss from Dalton to Brandon Tate set up Brown's 40-yard
field goal that put the Bengals up 10-0 with just under two minutes remaining
in the half.
The Steelers needed just two passes and 32 seconds to answer, as Antonio Brown
flew past Cincinnati corner Adam Jones and hauled in a well-thrown
Roethlisberger deep ball for a 60-yard score that cut Pittsburgh's deficit to
three by intermission.
Dalton was intercepted by Cortez Allen at the Bengals' 32-yard line on the
initial play from scrimmage of the first half, but the Cincinnati defense
again came up big to preserve its advantage. Roethlisberger was sacked by Geno
Atkins and Carlos Dunlap for an 8-yard loss on third down, taking the Steelers
out of Suisham's range and forcing a punt.
"It's disheartening, because we had chances as a football team," said Tomlin.
Pittsburgh did cash in on its next series, with Roethlisberger hitting on 4-
of-5 throws on a 10-play, 45-yard sequence that ultimately resulted in a 40-
yard Suisham field goal that knotted the score at 10-10 with 4:01 to go in the
Antonio Brown recorded 97 yards on five catches to lead the Steelers, while
Miller ended with 45 yards on three grabs before exiting late in the fourth
quarter with an apparent right ankle injury ... Cincinnati's defense has
allowed just 12.1 points and forced 18 turnovers over the last seven games ...
Atkins was responsible for 2 1/2 of the Bengals' four sacks on the day and now
has 13 on the season, tying a club record set by Eddie Edwards in 1983 ...
Allen had both Pittsburgh interceptions and also forced a fumble in the loss
... Mendenhall returned from a 1-game team-imposed suspension and finished
with 50 rushing yards on 11 carries ... The Bengals halted a string of five
straight losses in the series.
12/23 21:18:25 ET