That one collective scream you just heard was from the city of Cincinnati. It was their fan base’s reaction to back-to-back personal foul calls that allowed the Pittsburgh Steelers to escape with an 18-16 that saw just about everything you could imagine.
The Steelers advance to play Denver next Sunday in the AFC Divisional Playoffs.
Much like the game a month ago, this one was chippy from the get-go and therefore it was only fitting that the Bengals’ two biggest problem children, Vontaze Burfict and Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones, were the root causes of their team’s demise.
No one could be happier about that then Bengals’ running back Jeremy Hill whose fumble gave the Steelers new life following a Landry Jones interception. Jones has entered the game in the late third quarter when Burfict landed hard on Ben Roethlisberger forcing him from the game.
But like Babe Ruth coming off the bench for one final at-bat, Roethlisberger came in with his bad right shoulder and guided the Steelers down the field. On a pass to Antonio Brown over the middle, Brown took a huge and in my opinion, a deliberate shot to the head from Burfict. The officials were justified in their flagging Burfict for the hit which left Brown knocked out.
Then Jones was flagged for another 15 yards for his actions as Brown left the field. That moved the ball inside the Bengals’ 20 yard line with 18 seconds left. Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin sent Chris Boswell onto the field where he promptly knocked through the game-winner.
Moving forward, the Steelers will need to address the injuries to both Roethlisberger and Brown and decide how to attack the Peyton Manning-led Broncos.
Overall, this game was an embarrassment for both the Bengals and the NFL. Burfict is out of control and is exactly the type of player the NFL needs less of in my opinion. I’ll sleep better knowing he isn’t advancing in the postseason.
What once looked like a solid Steelers win (they led 15-0), became a gut-wrenching experience for all involved and probably saved Mike Tomlin from having to answer questions about why he went for two up 15-0. All that is water under the bridge right now though because the Steelers are moving on.