The Pittsburgh Steelers blew a 15-point lead, lost their starting quarterback and threw a late interception in their Wild Card playoff game last night. But nothing seems to be stopping these Steelers, as they pulled out an 18-16 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on the road, after needing the Buffalo Bills to beat the New York Jets in Week 17 just to make the playoffs.
In a sloppy, rain-soaked game, Pittsburgh held a 15-0 lead heading into the 4th quarter, but not before two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger injured his throwing shoulder after a sack by Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict to end the 3rd quarter.
Cincinnati QB AJ McCarron capitalized on his absence, guiding the Bengals to a 16-15 lead with 1:56 remaining. After Pittsburgh back-up QB Landry Jones threw an interception on the ensuing possession, Cincinnati seemed poised to grab their first playoff victory in over 25 years.
But this is Cincinnati, known for playoff struggles and miscues.
An immediate fumble by running back Jeremy Hill gave Pittsburgh the ball back on their own nine-yard line with only 1:23 remaining.
And that’s when Big Ben made his way back on to the field, ready to lead the scoring drive that would send Pittsburgh into the next round of the playoffs.
“Coach came to me and asked if I could do it,” said Roethlisberger, who sat out for two series in the 4th quarter before his return. “I said I’d give it my best shot.”
A few short passes later, Pittsburgh was threatening around midfield with 22 seconds left.
And that’s when Cincinnati pulled a Cincinnati.
An unnecessary roughness call for a hard hit by Burfict put the ball at the Cincinnati 32-yard line. Not to be outdone, cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones picked up another personal foul after the play, this one for unsportsmanlike conduct, after appearing to shove Pittsburgh assistant coach Joey Porter.
Pittsburgh then lined up for a 35-yard field goal after the 30 penalty yards, and made it count as Chris Boswell put his kick straight through the uprights.
“We’re not a perfect group, but we did enough to move on,” said Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin, who is now 6-4 in the playoffs. “Hopefully we can do the same thing next week.”
It was an unusual quarter, but it shouldn’t catch anyone by surprise. Marvin Lewis has never won a playoff game with the Bengals, and the Steelers are known for playoff success, tying the Cowboys for most postseason victories after their triumph tonight.
For Lewis to finally get a playoff win, he simply needs to be a better coach. Those types of bonehead fouls are the result of coaching. Burfict and Jones are undisciplined players, and discipline stems from coaching.
Lewis has some personnel decisions to make if he wants to reach the same level as the Pittsburgh Steelers. But after this game, Lewis might not even get the chance to make those decisions.