December 31, 2018 / 1:04 AM / 5 months ago

Steelers drop Bengals but fail to make playoffs

EditorsNote: Updates head, first two graphs with Steelers eliminated from playoffs

Rookie kicker Matt McCrane’s third field goal Sunday, from 35 yards with 1:56 left, gave Pittsburgh a 16-13 win over the visiting Cincinnati Bengals, but it was not enough to continue the Steelers’ season.

Pittsburgh (9-6-1) also needed Cleveland to win at Baltimore, but the Ravens prevailed 26-24. The only way the Steelers could make the playoffs was if the Tennessee-Indianapolis game Sunday night ended in a tie. But the Colts ended those hopes with a 33-17 win.

Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger passed for 287 yards with a touchdown and an interception by Cincinnati’s Shawn Williams that was returned for a touchdown.

The Steelers played without receiver Antonio Brown, who has a knee injury. Without a double threat, JuJu Smith-Schuster faced stiff coverage, with five catches for 37 yards and a tying touchdown.

The Bengals’ Jeff Driskel passed for 95 yards. Joe Mixon rushed for 105 yards.

Cincinnati finished 6-10 in a season marked by numerous injuries.

The first quarter was a punt fest, with the most significant moment coming when Cincinnati receiver Cody Core left with an air cast on his left elbow after an awkward, gruesome-looking fall.

At 12:37 of the second quarter, Williams picked off Roethlisberger and returned the ball 58 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Cincinnati lead.

Randy Bullock increased the Bengals’ lead to 10 with a 49-yard field goal with 2:12 left in the first half.

Pittsburgh’s first points came as the first half ended. McCrane hit from 39 yards to cut the deficit to 10-3. It was his first field-goal attempt for Pittsburgh after he was signed this week. The Steelers put struggling kicker Chris Boswell on injured reserve.

The Steelers finally got the big play they needed when Roethlisberger hit rookie James Washington in stride for 47 yards to the Bengals 27. It put Roethlisberger over 5,000 yards for the first time in his career.

After a James Conner run for another first down, Roethlisberger threw an 11-yard screen pass to Smith-Schuster for a touchdown to tie the game at 10 with 3:50 left in the third quarter.

McCrane gave the Steelers their first lead, 13-10, with 8:35 left in the game on a 47-yard field goal that bounced off the right upright and through.

Bullock tied it 13-13 with a 32-yard field goal with 6:17 left, in part set up by Joe Mixon’s 51-yard run.

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