Archive

ShareThis Page
Steelers beat Bengals, but get no help from Browns | TribLIVE.com
Steelers/NFL

Steelers beat Bengals, but get no help from Browns

Joe Rutter
| Sunday, December 30, 2018 7:45 p.m
5888561075999960
Getty Images
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 30: T.J. Watt #90 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after a sack in the third quarter during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on December 30, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
5888565888560a952d5d6c5c4128a5cacfb1be79d0f6
Cincinnati Bengals strong safety Shawn Williams (36) takes an interception of a pass by Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) to the end zone for a touchdown in the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
5888561075967488
Getty Images
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 30: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers comes off the field in the first quarter during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on December 30, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

After rallying to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals, 16-13, on Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field, the Pittsburgh Steelers could only watch, hope and pray for a similar comeback to unfold in Baltimore.

It didn’t happen.

Much to the chagrin of the players who remained on the field to watch the final moments of the Ravens-Browns game play out on the Jumbotron, Baltimore staved off a last-minute comeback to hold on for a 26-24 victory that solidified the AFC North title.

The Steelers entered the day needing to beat the Bengals and have the Browns knock off the Ravens in Baltimore. Only one-half of that equation worked out in the Steelers’ favor.

The Ravens (10-6) edged the Steelers (9-6-1) by one-half game for the division crown. The only hope for the Steelers to make the playoffs rests on the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts playing to a tie in the Sunday night game.

The Steelers overcame a 10-point first-half deficit against the Bengals, who entered the game with the worst defense in the NFL but nearly pulled off the upset.

Matt McCrane, signed to a contract Friday after an injury to Chris Boswell, kicked three field goals, including a 35-yarder with 1 minute, 56 seconds left that snapped a 13-13 tie for the Steelers.

The Steelers played the regular-season finale without All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown, linebacker Vince Williams and safety Sean Davis because of injuries.

Minus Brown, the Steelers struggled to find a deep passing game aside from a 47-yarder to rookie James Washington that led to a tying touchdown in the third quarter.

Ben Roethlisberger was 31 of 45 for 287 yards, one touchdown and an interception that was returned for a touchdown. James Conner rushed for 64 yards on 14 carries and came within 27 yards of a 1,000-yard season.

The Bengals entered the game allowing 29.3 points per game, the most in the NFL. Yet it took McCrane’s 39-yard field goal on the final play of the first half to account for the Steelers’ first points.

The boos came out when the Steelers punted on their first two series of the third quarter. A 47-yard pass to Washington awakened the crowd, and the stadium was hopping when JuJu Smith-Schuster’s 11-yard touchdown catch tied the score 10-10 with 3:50 left in the quarter.

The completion to Washington pushed Roethlisberger over the 5,000-yard mark for the season. He became the seventh quarterback in NFL history to reach that milestone. Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes did it minutes earlier to become the sixth.

On the next drive, Roethlisberger hit Vance McDonald for 22 yards on a third-and-7, and he converted a fourth-and-4 with a 6-yard completion to the Bengals 29.

When the drive stalled, McCrane came on and barely pushed his 47-yard attempt over the crossbar and inside the right upright to give the Steelers their first lead, 13-10, with 8:35 remaining.

No sooner had “Renegade” played over the loudspeakers than Bengals running Joe Mixon broke a 51-yard run to the Steelers 15. Randy Bullock kicked a 32-yard field goal to tie it 13-13 with 6:17 to play.

The Steelers faced a third-and-10 at the Cincinnati 24 when Roethlisberger and Eli Rogers hooked up for a 10-yard gain. Facing a fourth down at the two-minute warning, the Steelers sent out McCrane to attempt a third field goal.

McCrane connected from 35 yards for a 16-13 advantage.

The Bengals turned the ball over with 1:08 remaining when a fourth-and-5 pass fell incomplete, and the Steelers ran out the clock.

The Bengals took a 7-0 lead with 12:37 left in the second quarter when Shawn Williams intercepted Roethlisberger at the Cincinnati 42 and weaved downfield 58 yards for a touchdown. Roethlisberger complained that the Bengals were offsides, resulting in a free play, but no flag was thrown, and nobody could catch Williams as he finished off the touchdown return.

After another Steelers punt, the Bengals put together a 12-play drive that was capped by Bullock’s 49-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead with 2:12 left in the half.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.