Steel City Underground presents "Steelers Throwback Thursday" featuring plays from recent seasons which you may have forgotten about! Now we're "bringing them back!"
With Wild Card weekend now in the books, I thought it would be a good time to go back and look at what was one of the ugliest, and most violent football games I’ve witnessed in my 38 years on this planet: the 2015 playoffs Wild Card contest between the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Setup with lots of bad blood over a set of previous games which saw players on both sides of the ball injured, the Steelers limped into Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium without one of their own, Le’Veon Bell, who was taken out by Vontaze Burfict.
Burfict, a known problem player in the league even way back then, took a cheap shot at Bell, going low and directly at his knees: once again sending the Steelers running back to the IR list less than a year after he was lost to IR due to a hit from Bengals safety Reggie Nelson.
To add insult to injury, Burfict celebrated that hit, which rubbed many Pittsburgh players the wrong way.
That set the stage for this mess of a game in the rain, which saw Bengals backup QB A.J. McCarron get the start, Ben Roethlisberger get driven to the ground (and MMA-style knee striked by Burfict) sending him to the sideline too.
There was even more action on the sideline too as the aforementioned Nelson shoved Steelers RB Jordan Todman out of bounds, but Nelson continued and made a beeline for Steelers OL coach Mike Munchak. Each got into a fracas, and as the game wore on, tensions rose higher.
Backup QB Landry Jones would entre the game with 13:57 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Steelers clinging to a 15-7 lead. The Bengals would close the gap to 15-10, then take a one-point lead on a deep touchdown pass to A.J. Green.
Jones’ first play following the Bengals score would be an interception, caught by Burfict, who would then run up the tunnel celebrating as if he were Forrest Gump.
All seemed lost, as the Bengals were poised to run out 1:36 left on the clock: but Ryan Shazier had other plans, stripping Cincinnati RB Jeremy Hill of the football and giving the Steelers a second chance.
Ben Roethlisberger pleaded his case and returned to the game, as the Steelers mounted the ugliest 9-play drive (74 yards) possibly in their franchise history.
Facing 3rd-and-7, the Steelers spent their second timeout, and would close to a 4th-and-3, where Antonio Brown would haul in a clutch pass, but get knocked out for the rest of the season by a direct helmet hit from Burfict.
The Steelers used their last timeout, with the ball at the 47, but due to Bufict’s penalty and another Unsportsmanlike Conduct foul on Bengals CB Adam Jones, Pittsburgh would march up to the Cincinnati 17-yard line and send Chris Boswell out for the game-winning field goal.
The Steelers would move on to the Divisional round with a final score of 18-16.