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Steelers defeat Bengals on final drive of chippy wild-card game
1:05 | NFL
Steelers defeat Bengals on final drive of chippy wild-card game
Sunday January 10th, 2016

Saturday’s AFC wild-card game between the Steelers and Bengals was an instant classic. What the first three quarters lacked in crisp football, the fourth quarter made up for in drama.

The game featured multiple turnovers, backbreaking penalties, improbable injury returns and a game-winning kick—and that was only the last two minutes. Here are the top 10 moments from the entire game:

10. The phantom celebration penalty

Steelers cornerback William Gay thought he scored a touchdown off a fumble early in Saturday’s game, so he celebrated accordingly in the end zone. Unfortunately for Gay, the referees found his histrionics to be a little over the top, and threw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct. Adding insult to injury, Gay’s touchdown was called back due to a penalty. The points were taken off the board, but Gay’s personal foul was still enforced.

9. Chris Boswell’s game-winning kick

Boswell’s kick was slightly anti-climactic after the preceding action. But his 35-yard field goal was no gimme. Boswell’s pressure make was overshadowed by the craziness just seconds before, but his score actually came with the Steelers behind one point, and was ultimately the difference between one more game or a long off-season.

8. Fans throw trash on the field

Cincinnati did not have its best showing on or off the field Saturday. As Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was carted off the field with a shoulder injury, fans began throwing trash onto the field. A water bottle even landed on Roethlisberger’s foot.

7. Green’s go-ahead catch

If it weren’t for the late-game craziness, we would likely be talking about the clutch, go-ahead score from A.J. Green late in the fourth quarter. Green found himself wide open in the corner of the field, making a leaping catch before avoiding a defender on his way into the end zone. The star receiver was mysteriously not on the field for Bengals’ failed two-point conversion.

6. The Butt-catch

This was the highlight of the game until the last few minutes. Bryant’s catch seemingly defied the laws of physics, with the receiver holding the ball against his backside with his arms tangled up with his legs. For a long time, the score looked like it would be enough to end the Bengals’ season. 

5. The interception

These next few moments kicked off a chain of events no one could have expected. Filling in for an injured Roethlisberger, Landry Jones threw an interception to Vontaze Burfict (more on him later!), seemingly ending the game.

Burfict was so excited about the potential game-sealing pick, he ran all the way back to the locker room. 

4. The fumble

Burfict had to return from the locker room quickly, because on the next play after his interception, Cincinnati running back Jeremy Hill fumbled the ball right back to the Steelers.

A contrite Hill apologized to fans on Twitter after the game.

3. The return

Hill’s fumble set the stage for one of the most improbable comebacks in recent NFL history. After being carted off the game earlier, Ben Roethlisberger returned for the Steelers’ final drive. Big Ben was clearly hampered by his shoulder, throwing mostly screen passes and other short throws. How was he able to return? It’s a question we may regret learning the answer to.

2. The Pacman penalty

Adam Jones set up Boswell up for his sub 40-yard field goal with a penalty for arguing with Steelers assistant coach Joey Porter. Why was the assistant coach on the field? Why weren’t there off-setting penalties on Porter and Jones? Those are the questions Bengals fans are asking themselves Sunday. Porter, a legendary trash-talker as a player, probably knew exactly what he was doing. 

After the game, Jones gave an expletive-laden rant about the call. (Note: strong language.)

1. The hit

Consider this patient zero. Vontaze Burfict’s shoulder-to-helmet hit of Antonio Brown set the stage for Pittsburgh’s win. Burfict’s hit was the reason Porter came on the field. His hit was the reason Jones even had a chance to argue with Porter. Burfict slammed Brown in the middle of the field on Roethlisberger’s only somewhat-deep throw after his return. Even with Burfict’s penalty, the Steelers were still looking at nearly a 50-yard kick in the rain to win the game. But Burfict’s personal foul gave Jones the opportunity to earn his, which ultimately gave the Steelers a much better chance to steal the game.

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