The Bengals tried and they tried. The usually reliable Mike Nugent and Jeff Reed missed kicks left and left and left. When it was said and done, the game came down to mistakes leading to points. All 27 Steeler points came after either a turnover, a blocked punt, or a missed field goal. The Bengals scored 14 off turnovers, and the decisive touchdown off of a missed field goal. They overcame the usual suspects (turnovers, penalties) on this night and overcame a 20-point Steeler lead - the first time that's ever been done - and won a game I never thought they would. I wrote that last sentence at 11:42 EDT. That's how confident I was at 11:42. I'm going to leave it in the post-game thread, even if I'm wrong. What an ending!
What really happened? Chad caught a 15 yard pass on 2nd and 20. On 3rd and 5, Carson Palmer overthrew Owens, and it was time for the decisive play of the game. Will Jake eat his words? They go against everything he thought going into the game. He will. The Bengals couldn't close it out as rookie Jordan Shipley dropped the should-have-been-4th-down-conversion. Ballgame.
The Bengals had my heart pumping and my mouth dry and they had a chance to win. But as has been the story all year, the Bengals beat themselves. They played a clean game but didn't overcome the final holding penalty. They couldn't overcome early turnovers and missed field goals and a block punt. Plenty of blame to go around, but plenty of praise too. Terrell Owens played a hell of a game. Carson Palmer only made one mistake - and it was a bad one. Bernard Scott's fumble was a dagger, and so was Jordan Shipley's drop.
At 2-6, the playoffs are no longer a possibility, but this team showed some heart tonight. 6 losses and a -23 point differential. Trent Dilfer summarized the season in a nutshell: the Bengals have dug themselves holes all year they can't get out of. They clawed their way out of their 6-foot grave tonight, but suffocated before they got to oxygen. I'm afraid the same will be true of the season.