The 18-16 victory by the Steelers over the Bengals seemed to be the smallest highlight from the wild AFC Wildcard Playoff game Saturday night between the AFC North rivals.
While the Steelers will be moving on to face the Denver Broncos next Sunday, the Bengals will have no one to blame but themselves for the late game collapse. The stars were aligned and the cards were dealt, and they were all coming up black and orange. Ben Roethlesberger was sacked and hurt. A.J. Greene scored on a 25 yard pass play to put the Bengals up 16-15. Back-up QB, Landry Jones, threw a pick to Steelers' hating linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Jeremy Hill, who was fired up after fellow running back Giovanni Bernard took a vicious head-to-head shot from the Steelers' Ryan Shazier and was knocked from the game, took the handoff and rumbled up the field on the first play in the Bengals' attempt to run out the clock.
But then the orange was replaced by yellow in the fate's cards and the Bengals transformed back into the "Bungals" once again.
It started when Hill was stripped by Shazier and the Steelers recovered the ball with 1:23 left in the game.
Big Ben came back into the game and marched the Steelers down the field. On a crossing pattern to Antonio Brown, Burfict laid a shoulder into Brown's head after the ball went through his hands, receiving a 15 yard personal foul. While Brown was down and being attended to, Steelers' coach Joey Porter got into a jawing match with the Bengals, and Adam "Pac-Man" Jones entered the fray and ended up being hit with a penalty. This gave the Steelers another 15 yards, putting them in even better field goal position with 18 seconds left, and kicker Chris Boswell calmly kicked the 35 yard field goal through, giving the Steelers the win.
“Being real with you, this don’t make no sense,” Bengals' safety George Iloka said. “This is my fourth year and I’m at a loss for words. It’s really disheartening. I’m sad for ourselves, for all the fans we let down. They have been riding with us since I got here. It’s crazy all the talent we have and we lose to teams personally, to me, I don’t think they match up to us talent-wise and some way, we lose.”
So what have we learned in the aftermath?
Vontaze Burfict is facing both another hefty fine and a possible suspension next season.
Joey Porter faces a fine.
Steelers coach, Mike Munchak, faces a fine for pulling the dreads of the Bengals' Reggie Nelson on the sidelines.
Ryan Shazier's hit on Giovanni Bernard was legal and he won't be fined.
Chris Boswell has been money for the Steelers.
The Steelers could be without both Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown next week.
But what we really learned is that the old saying still applies "Don't talk the talk if you can't walk the walk." The Bengals' talked before and during the game, but when the time came for them to walk, they tripped and fell flat on their faces.
So Pittsburgh is moving on while the Bengals will be wondering "what if" all off-season.