The Cincinnati Bengals playoff hopes ended much the way their last playoff game did, with a blown lead in the rain, under the lights against Pittsburgh.
The Steelers rallied from a 17-point deficit to tie the game on a Ben Roethlisberger touchdown to Antonio Brown with 3:51 remaining, and they won it 23-20 on a Chris Boswell 38-yard field goal as time expired.
It was the seventh consecutive win for Pittsburgh, which improved to 10-2, while the Bengals fell to 5-7.
It also was the Steelers’ sixth consecutive win against the Bengals and the ninth in the last 10 as they improved to 15-2 at Paul Brown Stadium against Marvin Lewis.
The result wasn’t the only thing typical of a Bengals-Steelers clash, as hard hits, injuries and penalties defined the night.
The teams combined for 234 penalty yards, and both squads saw starting linebackers leave on backboards on a cart. Pittsburgh’s Ryan Shazier suffered a back injury on a hit against Cincinnati wide receiver Josh Malone early in the first quarter.
And the Bengals lost Vontaze Burfict to a head injury on a penalized hit by Pittsburgh wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster on the game-tying drive in the fourth quarter.
The Bengals also lost running back Joe Mixon to a concussion and cornerback Adam Jones to a groin injury, which he suffered while intercepting Roethlisberger on the opening drive of the game.
The turnover led to a 35-yard field goal by Randy Bullock, which was followed by touchdown passes of 9 and 15 yards from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green to give the Bengals a 17-0 lead.
But the Steelers got a 30-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to start their comeback.
Roethlisberger added a 35-yard touchdown pass to Le’Veon Bell on the team’s first drive of the third quarter.
Rookie linebacker Jordan Evans pushed Bell toward the boundary from behind, while cornerback William Jackson stood and watched. Bell managed to stay in and go untouched over the final 20 yards.
The Bengals appeared to answer with a 61-yard touchdown pass from Dalton to Green, but Bernard was called for holding on Pittsburgh defensive end T.J. Watt.
It was one of 13 penalties for a franchise record 173 yards, the final 5 of which made Boswell’s game-winning field goal even shorter when Josh Shaw jumped offsides.
Cincinnati still managed to get a 41-yard field goal out of the drive after converting on third and 17 when Dalton hit Brandon LaFell for 27 yards to the Steelers 40.
Boswell got the Steelers back with a score on a 37-yard field goal with 10:07 remaining. The kick was set up by a 30-yard pass interference penalty on Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.
The Steelers held the Bengals to 13 yards in the fourth quarter and drove 39 yards in eight plays for the game-winning field goal.