The Bengals lost their minds.
As a result, the Bengals lost another playoff game.
What looked like was going to be an improbable Bengals’ comeback instead became an improbable Bengals’ meltdown. The Bengals fumbled with 1:36 to go, and even then the Steelers only set up the game-winning field goal after Vontaze Burfict was flagged for a personal foul on a hit on Antonio Brown, then Adam Jones also was flagged 15 yards after he contacted an official in the aftermath.
That set up an easy field goal for Chris Boswell, his fourth, and the Steelers escaped with an 18-16 win.
What was a defensive battle for two and a half quarters turned into a wild game full of big hits, big plays and key injuries. The Bengals took the lead on a 25-yard touchdown pass from A.J. McCarron to A.J. Green with 1:50 left, then Burfict picked off Landry Jones on the Steelers’ next play.
The Bengals’ Jeremy Hill fumbled it back, and Ben Roethlisberger replaced Jones. Roethlisberger had been carted to the locker room after landing on shoulder on a sack by Burfict on the last play of the third quarter.
It was 15-0 at that point. The Steelers went for two on their only touchdown, didn’t get it, and the really wild stuff was just beginning.
Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis is now 0-7 in the postseason. The Bengals needed only to protect the ball before Hill’s fumble, and still then only lost after the inexcusable penalties.
The Steelers advance to play in Denver next Sunday. The Patriots will play the Chiefs.