“”We should be (in the playoffs) if it wasn’t for me,” Roethlisberger said after throwing his second game-deciding interception in eight days.
Roethlisberger tossed a pick — also intended for Wallace — on the second play of overtime in Dallas last Sunday, allowing the Cowboys to win it on a field goal. He openly questioned offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s play calling after the loss, but apologized later and insisted he and Haley were “on the same page.”
“Not our day and thus, not our year,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. “Just not enough significant plays at the moments. Sounds like a broken record but reality as we sit here.”
Pittsburgh did a decent job of keeping Dalton and Green in check, posting season highs with three turnovers and six sacks. The Bengals couldn’t run the ball at all, managing just 14 yards against the NFL’s top defense. Still, it wasn’t enough for the Steelers, turning a season that looked so promising before Election Day into a muddled mess.
Instead of making playoff plans, Pittsburgh needs a victory next week against Cleveland to avoid the first losing season in Tomlin’s six-year tenure.
Normally it’s the Bengals who are playing out the string. Yet the franchise that served as a punchline for so long is now the one throwing the punches. Cincinnati never trailed in a place it rarely wins and allowed the Steelers to make the critical mistakes.
Well, most of them anyway.
Cincinnati drove into Pittsburgh territory midway through the fourth quarter with the score tied at 10 before things bogged down at the Steelers 38. Rather than try to pin reeling Pittsburgh deep, Lewis sent out Brown to attempt a 56-yard field goal into the tricky Heinz Field winds.
The kick was never close, giving the Steelers premium field position with 3:18 left.
“I make decisions to try to win the game today and they kind of backfired on me a little bit,” Lewis said.
Pittsburgh, however, had its own kicking issues. The Steelers moved to the Cincinnati 36, then brought out Shaun Suisham for a 53-yard attempt that was short all the way.
The Bengals went nowhere, giving Pittsburgh one last shot in regulation. Rather than run out the clock and play for overtime with the ball at their own 11 and 44 seconds to go, the Steelers tried to make something happen.
And they did. For the Bengals. Facing second down at the Pittsburgh 29, Roethlisberger rolled to his right and tried to hit Wallace down the sideline. The ball sailed over Wallace’s head and into Nelson’s arms.
Two plays later Cincinnati was celebrating a playoff berth that signaled another step out of its mediocre past.