Pitts­burgh kicked out of con­tention

Late field goal gives Cin­ci­nat sec­ond straight play­off berth

Austin American-Statesman - - NFL - A

A.J. Green doesn’t really care about the Cincin­nati Ben­gals’ woe­ful past. The wide re­ceiver wasn’t part of it and hasn’t really taken the time to study it. The Ben­gals were bad. End of story. And now they’re good. Be­gin­ning of story.

Andy Dal­ton hit Green for a 21-yard pass in the fi­nal min­utes to set up Josh Brown’s 43-yard field goal with 4 sec­onds left to lift the Ben­gals to a 13-10 win over the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers on Sun­day. Cincin­nati (9-6) clinched a sec­ond straight play­off berth af­ter beat­ing the Steel­ers (7-8) for the first time since 2009. Pitts­burgh (7-8) was elim­i­nated from post­sea­son con­tention.

The only other time the Ben­gals made the play­offs in con­sec­u­tive sea­sons came in 1981-82, six years be­fore Green was born.

“This has been our goal coming in at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son,” Green said. “A lot of peo­ple talked about we hadn’t been in in back-to-back sea­sons in 30 years. I don’t worry about that stuff. I’ve been here two years and we made the play­offs all two years. That’s all we can con­trol.”

Shred­ding the la­bel as er­ratic — and some­times com­i­cal — losers one im­prob­a­ble vic­tory at a time, the Ben­gals, their pre­co­cious duo of Green and Dal­ton and their quickly im­prov­ing de­fense have Cincin­nati in un­charted ter­ri­tory.

The Ben­gals have been around since 1968. This is the first time they’ll make the post­sea­son in two straight non-strike years.

“This group in there has very lit­tle his­tory of any­thing,” Ben­gals coach Marvin Lewis said.

Maybe that’s why Ben­gals aren’t doomed to re­peat it.

Brown missed a 56-yarder ear­lier in the fourth quar­ter, but earned a sec­ond chance when Reg­gie Nel­son picked off Ben Roeth­lis­berger and re­turned it to the Pitts­burgh 46 with 14 sec­onds re­main­ing. Dal­ton found Green down the right side­line on the next play, set­ting up Brown’s win­ner.

“I’ve had some pretty big kicks, but that was a long time ago,” said Brown, who is fill­ing in for in­jured starter Mike Nu­gent. “When you have a chance for the play­offs there’s noth­ing big­ger. It’s a big deal.

Dal­ton com­pleted 24 of 41 for 278 yards and two in­ter­cep­tions for the Ben­gals, which snapped a five-game los­ing streak to Pitts­burgh.

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