Bengals book playoff spot with win over Steelers

Sun Dec 23, 2012 7:30pm EST
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(Reuters) - Josh Brown booted a 43-yard field goal with four seconds left to play to earn the Cincinnati Bengals a 13-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and a ticket to the National Football League playoffs on Sunday.

The victory was the Bengals' (9-6) first over their bitter AFC North rivals in six meetings and eliminated the Steelers (7-8) from post-season contention spoiling the holiday mood for the capacity crowd who had arrived at Heinz Field expecting to kick off the Christmas holidays with a win.

"It's very satisfying, quite honestly," Brown told reporters. "I've had some bad runs against Pittsburgh, including a bad game with the Rams last year, so really I just needed to exercise some demons.

"It's a good Christmas."

The outcome marks the first since 2006 that the Steelers will enter the final game of the regular season with no chance to make the playoffs while the Bengals earned back-to-back post-season berths for the first time in 30 years.

"It was not our day, not our year, not enough physical play at the moment," said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. "It sounds like a broken record but the reality, as we sit here, we accept responsibility for it. ...

"It's disheartening because we had chances."

As is typical when the Steelers and Bengals clash, the meeting was a bruising defensive battle, the Cincinnati defense accounting for the Bengals' only touchdown when Leon Hall intercepted Ben Roethlisberger in the opening quarter and returned the ball 17 yards for the score.

Roethlisberger connected with Antonio Brown on a 60-yard touchdown in the third quarter to get Pittsburgh back into the contest but made a critical mistake with 14 seconds to play, throwing his second interception that was returned to the Steelers 46.   Continued...

Cincinnati Bengals Kevin Huber congratulates kicker Josh Brown on his game-winning field goal against the Pittsburgh Steelers at the end of the fourth quarter of their NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, December 23, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Cohn