Following A.J. Green’s clutch go-ahead score (and a botched two-point conversion attempt), the Bengals led 16–15, with a chance to win their first playoff game since 1981.
On the first play of the next drive, Landry Jones—in for an injured Ben Roethlisberger—threw a pass over the middle that was intercepted by diving Bengals linebacker VontazeBurfict, who had knocked Roethlisberger out of the game after a sack late in the third quarter.
Burfict thoroughly enjoyed his moment, running the ball all the way into the tunnel.
But with a chance to maintain the Bengals’ lead, running back Jeremy Hill lost a crucial fumble and gave the ball right back to the Steelers after the ball was recovered by Ross Cockrell.
On the next drive, Roethlisberger re-entered, with a chance to drive Pittsburgh up the field for the winning points. With his right shoulder clearly hampered, Roethlisberger completed a short pass to Martavis Bryant and Fitzgerald Toussaint ran for four yards to set up a critical fourth-and-three with 28 seconds left. Out of a timeout, Roethlisberger found Antonio Brown for a first down.
The Steelers took their final timeout, and with 22 seconds left, Roethlisberger looked for Brown deep. The star wideout took a late hit from Burfict, who drew a personal foul and a penalty flag. Brown was helped off of the field, and in the aftermath of the play, Cincinnati’s Adam “Pacman” Jones drew another personal foul that helped cost his team the game. Brown suffered a concussion, per Mike Tomlin, and his status for next week is unknown.
The penalties added up to 30 free yards for the Steelers and set up a 35-yard field goal for Chris Boswell, who gave Pittsburgh an 18–16 lead and the victory.
The Steelers advance to play the Broncos in the divisional round next weekend.
- Jeremy Woo