The Cincinnati Bengals trailed for only two seconds last night.
Punchline: They were the only two seconds that mattered.
A 38-yard Chris Boswell field goal as time expired provided the winning margin for the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 23-20 knuckle biter. The game wasn’t helped by the loads of questionable calls by the officials on both sides. In fact, the most painful moment was a horrible third-quarter holding call on Giovani Bernard that wiped out a long AJ Green touchdown reception. The Bengals settled for a field goal instead of a touchdown. Think those four points would’ve made a difference?
How Things Went
The Cincinnati Bengals fought well in a game that featured so many bone-crushing hits, you’d think Chuck Norris had bought a ticket. (Wait, bought a ticket? Who are we kidding? Chuck would just step over the stadium wall and grab a churro from behind the counter). Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict was taken off the field on a stretcher. Joe Mixon left with a concussion. Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown took a helmet to the chin while catching a fourth-quarter touchdown pass. The Steelers also lost LB Ryan Shazier with a back injury, and Big Ben was slow to get off the turf a few times.
Even with all that, Cincinnati played well enough to win and responded well when they got a bad break. After Mixon left in the second quarter, Cincinnati plugged in Giovani Bernard and continue their 95-yard touchdown drive. Bernard’s holding call didn’t result in a punt. Instead, Andy Dalton completed a 27-yard pass to Brandon LaFell on 3rd and 16. That led to a field goal.
The offensive line was punching holes in the Steel Curtain all night. The team finished with 130 yards on the ground. The Bengals were playing with such confidence, you’d think they were leading the division. And the Steelers were getting pushed around to the point that … well, you’d think they were the Bengals. But in the end, the game ended the same way many others have – a slim win by Pittsburgh.
Player of the Game
Green had himself a time, gaining 77 yards on seven catches and nabbing a pair of TDs. Amazingly, those were his first-half numbers. He was shut out the rest of the game.
The Cincinnati Bengals playoff chances took a serious blow with this loss. More serious than when Ivan Drago caved in Apollo Creed’s skull during their exhibition match. They are now 5-7 and behind three 6-6 teams (Chargers, Bills, and Raiders) that are “in the hunt” for a wild card spot. We’re not exactly sure what needs to happen for Cincinnati to get in. And it was a long night, so we don’t feel like figuring it out.