Steelers win on last-second FG after Shazier injury
CINCINNATI — The Pittsburgh Steelers were in a similar situation before, trailing the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth quarter at Paul Brown Stadium, most notably in the 2015 AFC wild-card game.
On Monday night, though, the Steelers also had to overcome the emotional fallout of seeing linebacker Ryan Shazier carted off the field in the first quarter. As head coach Mike Tomlin said afterward, his players didn’t blink.
Chris Boswell’s 38-yard field goal as time expired lifted the Steelers to a 23-20 victory over the Bengals, capping an injury- and penalty-ridden matchup.
“We have a no-blink rule,” Tomlin said. “We’ve been under duress in this stadium against that team before. We overcame a lot of adversity.”
But nothing like this.
Pittsburgh lost Shazier, its leading tackler, to a reported spinal cord injury. He was taken to a local hospital. Following the game, two Steelers players said Shazier had a spinal cord concussion, but there was no immediate confirmation from the team regarding his condition.
Tomlin said postgame, “We’ll release an update at the appropriate time. Right now, we’re just happy he’s getting the necessary medical attention that he deserves.”
Antonio Brown had eight catches for 101 yards and a touchdown, and Ben Roethlisberger passed for 290 yards and two touchdowns in helping Pittsburgh (10-2) rally from a 17-0 second-quarter deficit for its seventh straight victory.
Brown missed practice this week with a toe injury, but aside from a couple of drops, played well.
“He’s easy to believe in,” Tomlin said. “You leave a light on for Antonio Brown. It was quintessential AB.”
Cincinnati (5-7) had a franchise-record 173 penalty yards, including an offside penalty that gave Boswell 5 extra yards on his game-winner.
“Momentum comes down to making plays,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “Don’t have dropped balls, don’t have a critical penalty. Things like that.”
Andy Dalton passed for 234 yards and two touchdowns for the Bengals, who also sustained several key injuries.
Cincinnati lost cornerback Adam Jones to a groin injury and running back Joe Mixon to a concussion in the first half.
“We went down some guys today,” Lewis said, “and we’ve got to have guys step up and make plays.”
Late in the fourth quarter, Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict sustained a head injury on a block by receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and taunting on the play.
“He shouldn’t have stood over him,” Tomlin said. “You coach off the video. The fact that he stood over him. ... That’s not reflective of the sportsman he is.”
The Steelers captured some momentum with a field goal just before halftime. Then on their first possession of the third quarter, Le’Veon Bell caught a short pass and tiptoed the sideline past Bengals corner William Jackson III for a 35-yard touchdown to make the score 17-10.
Bell rushed for 76 yards on 18 carries. He also had five receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Roethlisberger completed 24 of 40 passes with one interception. Dalton was 21 of 36 with no interceptions.
Dalton had a 61-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green negated by a holding penalty. Green wound up with seven catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns.
Pittsburgh’s Martavis Bryant had a 96-yard kickoff return touchdown called back, also due to a hold.
Cincinnati led 20-13 with eight minutes left, but Roethlisberger’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Brown tied the score with 3:51 remaining.
The Bengals dominated the first quarter with 112 total yards on 16 plays.
Brown, who was questionable coming into the game, caught a 20-yard pass on his first target. However, Jones made a diving interception of a Roethlisberger pass three plays later, helping set up a 35-yard field goal by Randy Bullock to put Cincinnati ahead 3-0. Jones injured his groin on the play and did not return.
The Bengals then drove 85 yards on 12 plays on their next possession, and a 9-yard touchdown pass from Dalton to Green increased their lead to 10-0. Coty Sensabaugh, who was starting at left cornerback in place of Joe Haden, was beaten on the play.
Green again beat Sensabaugh for a 15-yard touchdown with 31 seconds remaining in the first half. Cincinnati led 17-3 at the end of an injury-riddled first half.
Dalton was 16 of 23 for 173 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Both of his scoring passes came on third down.
A pass interference call on Darqueze Dennard gave the Steelers a first down at the 12-yard line with five seconds left in the half. Boswell hit a 30-yard field goal for Pittsburgh’s first points.
“At halftime, it felt like there was no panic,” Roethlisberger said. “We’re resilient. We fight until the end of the game, literally.”
NOTES: Bengals WR John Ross, the ninth overall pick in this year’s draft, was inactive for the ninth time this season. ... Bengals LB Nick Vigil, the team’s leading tackler, was inactive, along with starting S Shawn Williams and LB Vincent Rey. ... Steelers CB Joe Haden missed his second consecutive game due to a fractured fibula.