Steelers Sneak By Bengals 18-16

Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Chris Boswell (9) celebrates with teammates after kicking the game winning field goal against the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Chris Boswell (9) celebrates with teammates after kicking the game winning field goal against the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Wildcard round 18-16 to advance to the divisional playoffs where they will face the Denver Broncos.

Ten years ago the Pittsburgh Steelers entered the playoffs as the number six seed and had to face the Cincinnati Bengals in the wildcard round. That year the Steelers defeated the Bengals 31-17 on their way to their fifth super bowl title in Superbowl XL.

This years script started off in a similar fashion as the Steelers defeated the Bengals 18-16 in one of the ugliest games I have ever seen played. The win over the Bengals was the 34th playoff win in Steelers history, which is tied for the most in the NFL.

This game was all defense all the way through. Early on neither offense could get going as the first eight drives of the game resulted in punts, five of which being three and outs. After that the defenses shined again with the Bengals causing a Markus Wheaton fumble, followed by an interception by Antwon Blake.

That interception set up the first of four Chris Boswell field goals on the day putting the Steelers up 3-0 with 2:27 to go in the second quarter. After another Bengals three and out, Boswell would hit another field goal right before halftime to make the half time score Steelers six, Bengals zero.

The first drive of the second half looked promising for the Bengals as they drove six plays for 42 yards, however a fumble forced by Jarvis Jones and recovered by Cam Thomas set the Steelers up at their own 36 yard line. This led to the Steelers and “The Wizard of Boz’s”, as he was called by Bob Pompeani of KDKA, third field goal of the day.

After another Bengals punt, The Steelers were backed deep on their own 18 yard line. After a 60 yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown put the Steelers at the Bengal 10 yard line, Martavis Bryant made what could be the catch of the year.

Roethlisberger threw the ball up for Bryant in the back corner of the endzone and he caught it, followed it with a somersault, and was able to hang on to the ball for the score.

After this the game started to get ugly, the Bengals drove 55 yards before Ryan Shazier put a crushing hit on running back Giovani Bernard causing a fumble and a Steelers recovery. After the hit the Bengals emotions got the best of them as running back Jeremy Hill ran out onto the field going after Steelers defenders.

Once tensions settled the Steelers were forced to punt, and suffered what looked to be a crushing blow. Ben Roethlisberger was sacked by Vontaze Burfict to stall the drive and force the Steelers to punt. Roethlisberger suffered a right shoulder injury and had to be carted off the field.

Bengals fans were heard cheering as Roethlisberger got carted off the field and even threw trash at the Steelers quarterback on the way to the locker room.

The ensuing Bengals drive resulted in a Bengals touchdown as Jeremy Hill was able to find the end zone on a 1 yard run to make the score Steelers 15 Bengals 7.

The Bengals would tack on another field goal and force two more Steelers punts before putting together a drive that looked like it would end the Steelers season. After driving 20 yards to the Pittsburgh 25 yard line, quarterback AJ McCarron threw a touchdown pass to AJ Green in the back corner of the end zone to take the lead 16-15 with 1:50 to play.

On the next Steelers drive, the game looked to be sealed as Landry Jones‘s first pass was intercepted by Burfict with 1:43 to go. Burfict followed this up by running into the locker room and acting like the game was over.

However, karma came back to bite the Bengals as on the next play Hill fumbled the ball and set the Steelers up with three time outs and 1:36 left on the clock. And, Roethlisberger came back out to lead his team down the field.

Roethlisberger completed short pass after short pass and drove the Steelers down to the their own 41 yard line. Then Burfict committed the ultimate mistake for the Bengals. Roethlisberger threw a deep pass over the middle to Antonio Brown that fell incomplete.

However, Burfict flew in and put his shoulder into Brown’s head giving him a concussion and giving the Bengals a 15 yard personal foul penalty.

This set up Chris Boswell for this 35 yard game winning field goal with 18 seconds remaining in the contest.

The win sends the Steelers to Denver to take on the Broncos next week in the AFC divisional round of the playoffs. However the Steelers may be doing so without their star receiver Antonio Brown as he was diagnosed with a concussion after the game.

Player of the Game: Chris Boswell and Ryan Shazier

It was hard for me to pick just one player of the game as both Boswell and Shazier were key to this Steelers victory.

First for Boswell, he made all four field goals he attempted on the night scoring 12 of the Steelers 18 points. The rookie made field goals of 39, 30, 34, and 35 yards. In his first big game of his career he delivered when the Steelers needed him most.

He was also the first 1st year player to kick four field goals in a playoff game in NFL history.

My other player of the game is Linebacker Ryan Shazier. Along with forcing the Bernard fumble, he lead the team with 13 tackles two of which being for a loss. He was all over the field making plays and was an instrumental part of this Steelers victory.

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Next the Steelers will go on the road as they take on the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium.  They will be taking on the wiley veteran Peyton Manning and a very experienced Broncos secondary with guys like Aqib Talib. The Steelers for now will keep on climbing that stair way to seven.