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Steelers vs. Bengals 2016 results: Pittsburgh gets 18-16 victory in wild, ugly game

The Bengals' playoff loss drought continued with an ugly loss to the Steelers in the Wild Card round.

SB Nation 2016 NFL Playoff Guide

The Cincinnati Bengals' playoff losing streak nearly came to an end on Saturday, but a last-minute meltdown led to an 18-16 win for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bengals have yet to win a playoff game in Marvin Lewis' tenure.

Pittsburgh will move on to face the No. 1 seed Denver Broncos in the Divisional round at Mile High Stadium.

This game will be remembered more for the penalties and dangerous hits than the actual football. Given how heated this AFC North rivalry has become, the officials warned both teams before the game about chippy play, but not even they could predict how out-of-control this got.

First, let's go over what happened in the final minutes, when the Bengals came so close to putting this game away.

With 3:28 left in the game, AJ McCarron had the ball at Pittsburgh's 45-yard line after a nice punt return by Adam Jones. He was unable to get a first down on three plays, setting up a fourth-and-2 with less than three minutes left, but McCarron hit Marvin Jones inside the 30 to convert. Three plays later, McCarron hit A.J. Green for a 25-yard touchdown, giving Cincinnati its first lead of the game.

After a failed two-point conversion, the Bengals held a 16-15 lead with 1:50 to go. Filling in for an injured Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones was picked off by Vontaze Burfict. This could've iced the game, but Jeremy Hill fumbled the ball back to the Steelers on the next play.

Roethlisberger came back in after missing most of the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury. He was clearly limited in his arm strength, throwing nothing but dumpoffs and screens. The Steelers faced fourth-and-3 from their own 41 with 28 seconds left, and converted with Roethlsiberger finding Antonio Brown, crossing midfield in the process. They got in field goal range when Burfict nailed Brown on a helmet-to-helmet hit, drawing a personal foul.

Another personal foul on Adam Jones set up a chip-shot field goal, putting the Steelers up 18-16. That was it for the game, which is sure to go down in infamy.

The game got off to a grinding start in the first quarter, with both teams playing strong defense and forcing punts. The Bengals were the first team to cross midfield after a crafty screen pass to Tyler Eifert went 16 yards to get the first down on a third-and-12. However, that drive quickly stalled out and the Bengals opted to punt away from Steelers' territory.

Despite being pinned at their own 6-yard line, the Steelers got the ball out towards midfield thanks to a 27-yard catch-and-pass by Fitzgerald Toussaint. The first quarter ended with both teams scoreless and Pittsburgh driving into Cincinnati territory. On third down, Reggie Nelson sacked Roethlisberger on a safety blitz to put the Steelers out of field goal range, but he injured his ankle on the play and had to be helped off the field.

With the rain coming down in sheets at Paul Brown Stadium, the mistakes started to pile up. McCarron lost the ball on a strip-sack, but one of his teammates recovered it, leading to another Bengals punt. The Steelers weren't so lucky -- Markus Wheaton put the ball on the ground near the line of scrimmage and Cincinnati recovered at its own 47-yard line. The Bengals' good fortunes didn't last long -- McCarron threw a poor interception on third down.

The Steelers got their first real scoring opportunity of the game when Roethlisberger hit Brown on the sidelines for a 23-yard gain, nearly making up for an earlier personal foul. That play set up the first points of the night, with Chris Boswell hitting a 39-yard field goal. After another Bengals punt, the Steelers marched back down the field and got another field goal from Boswell, going into halftime leading, 6-0.

The Bengals got the ball to start the third quarter and had a promising drive, but disaster struck again. After a 29-yard run by Hill got Cincinnati near the red zone, McCarron got strip-sacked and Cam Thomas recovered before seemingly fumbling again. It was nearly a touchdown return by William Gay, but Thomas was ruled down by contact. Pittsburgh immediately took advantage of the turnover, springing Martavis Bryant for 44 yards on a reverse, setting up Boswell's third field goal of the game.

After a relatively quiet night, Brown finally exploded for his biggest play of the game, a 60-yard catch-and-run that put the Steelers at the 10-yard line. Two plays later, Roethlisberger hit Bryant in the end zone with a perfect throw for the game's first touchdown, putting the Bengals in a deep hole. Bryant made one of the most ridiculous catches you will ever see.

The score was 15-0 after the Steelers failed to convert a two-point conversion.

The game took a turn for the ugly when Giovani Bernard was shaken up on a massive hit by Ryan Shazier, which forced the ball loose for a Steelers recovery. Replays showed Shazier leading with the crown of his helmet, although no penalty was called, leading to both players and fans being livid.

Roethlisberger got carted off the field late in the third quarter after taking a sack from Vontaze Burfict, suffering a shoulder injury. The Bengals finally got on the board on their next drive, with Hill punching it into the end zone from 1 yard out. With a 15-7 lead and Landry Jones now starting for Pittsburgh, the fourth quarter promised plenty of drama.

The Bengals' defense forced a punt with Jones under center and McCarron drove his offense down the red zone despite missing both Bernard and Hill in the backfield. They ended up settling for a 35-yard field goal from Mike Nugent, cutting the deficit to five points with 5:12 left in the game.

Roethlisberger returned to the sideline with his helmet on, but did not re-enter the game. Jones stayed in and Cincinnati forced another three-and-out, giving McCarron his shot at a game-winning drive. That set up the wild finish that will surely have people talking for weeks afterwards.