GAME: Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8) @ Cincinnati Bengals (8-7)
WHEN: Sunday, December 31st, 2006 at 1 p.m.
BROADCAST: CBS with Ian Eagle and Soloman Wilcots. Sirius: 146 (Cincinnati), 110 (Pittsburgh)
SB NATION: Behind the Steel Curtain
PERSONNEL: Levi Jones and Johnathan Joseph (over Deltha O'Neal, not Tory James) are starting. Inactive this week: Shaun Smith, Skyler Green, John Busing, A.J. Nicholson, Quincy Wilson, Andre Frazier and Ben Wilkerson.
PLAYOFFS? PLAYOFFS?! We need to win, simple as that. We lose and there's no scenario available for the Bengals to get into the playoffs. We win and the Jets lose, we're in. We win and the Broncos lose AND the Chiefs win, we're in.
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Comment here for your game thoughts (i.e. open thread)
Other games: Jets 23, Raiders 3 (final) ... Chiefs 35, Jags 30 (final). (red means bad news)
4:19 First-and-ten at the 33, Ben quickly throws to Holmes to the left and runs 67 yards for the touchdown. The Bengals have been eliminated from the playoffs after this loss. Well, that's the third 8-8 season in four seasons finishing on a three-game losing streak. When given a chance to control their own destiny at 8-5, the Bengals falter at the finish line with another non-winning season. It's all for naught and the 2006 season is completed.
4:16: First-and-ten at the Pitt-22, Parkers gets the handoff for about five yards. Second-and-five from the 27, Ben drops back and runs up the middle for six yards and a first down.
4:13: Pass to run difference for the Bengals: 38 passes / 14 runs by Rudi and Jeremi. Chris Henry has four receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown.
4:12: Steelers call heads and the coin comes up... heads. Steelers have the ball to start.
4:11: Steelers take a knee and this one is going to overtime.
4:10: FIELD GOAL IS............................. NO GOOD. Pushed it right.
4:09: FIELD GOAL IS........................... Steelers timeout.
4:08: With :22 seconds left in the game (and perhaps the season) and second-and-ten, the Bengals kneel. Then after that, the Bengals got to the line of scrimmage and spiked the ball. Here we go, with 12 seconds left, Graham is setting up for a 39-yard field goal attempt.
4:07: Refs called a "correction" and the Bengals called a timeout. Why? We're calling a timeout, while the clock isn't running, to prevent a five-yard penalty. Hopefully we don't need the field goal unit while the clock runs.
4:05: Perfect throw by Palmer for 47 yards. Palmer brought the team up to the line and spike the ball stopping the clock. Then the Bengals were called for a delay of game.
4:03: First-and-ten, Palmer drops back and over throws T.J. to the left. Second-and-ten, Palmer drops back and THROWS A DEEP PASS OVER THE MIDDLE FOR 47 YARDS TO CHRIS HENRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
4:02: Nice return by Holt returning the ball 33 yards. A few shakes, a few shimmers and the Bengals have the ball at their own 33 yard-line.
4:00: The field goal is................................... good. Games is tied at 17 with 1:03 left and the Bengals have one timeout.
3:59: Third-and-ten, from the Cin-17, Ben in shotgun, throws the pass way too low for an incomplete. Fourth down.
3:58: Second-and-ten, Ben dumps off to the left on a screen to Parker who drops it. Third-and-ten.
3:57: AFC WILD CARD UPDATE: Jones Drew scored a five-yard touchdown. The Jags have closed the gap losing 30-35.
3:56: First-and-ten at the Cin-29 with 1:58 left in the game (and maybe the season), Ben on play-action throws right to Kreider for 11 yards and a first down. First-and-ten at the Cin-17, Ben hands off to Parker picking up a no-gain.
3:53: After an incomplete, the Steelers have second-and-ten, Ben throws right to Holmes picking up a 34 yards. Two minute warning.
3:52: On first-and-ten, Ben drops back and is forced up the middle. He found Washington over the middle and picked up 21 yards.
3:50: After Townsend was called for an unsportsmanlike foul, Shayne Graham kicked from the 45 and Davenport returned it to the 17.
3:47: After the PAT, the Bengals lead 17-14 with 2:47 left in the game.
3:47: Third-and-goal from the five, Palmer drops back, sits and then finds Tony Stewart on the left on the goalline for a TOUCHDOWN!!!!!!!
3:46: Palmer drops back and is forced to roll out right. He couldn't find anything and finally just dumped it off to Tony Strewart for a no-gain if not a loss.
3:45: First-and-goal at the seven, Rudi gets the handoff and picks up three yards to the four-yard line.
3:45: Third-and-eight, Palmer drops back and throws over the middle to Chris Henry. PASS INTERFERENCE on Townsend who held Henry's arms. This sets up the Benals at the seven.
3:43: Second-and-eight, at the Pitt-28, Palmer drops back and quickly throws to T.J.. Housh caught the ball but was hit immediately and dropped the ball. It was called incomplete. Could have been called a fumble.
3:42: First-and-ten, with Anthony Wright at quarterback, hands off to Rudi for about two yards. Palmer is coming back.
3:42: Palmer gets up and walks off on his own. He seems ok, but he's pointing to his rib-cage. He threw a pass on the sidelines and seems fine.
3:41: Anthony Wright is taking snaps and will be coming in. Palmer motioned to his chest which could mean the wind was just knocked out of him.
3:41: First-and-ten, Palmer drops back and throws it way out of bounds to the right. Palmer is still on the ground. James Farrior was called for a roughing the penalty for driving Palmer into the ground. Palmer is still down.
3:40: On first-and-ten, Palmer quickly throws to his right to Henry for a five-yard pickup. Second-and-five, Rudi gets the handoff bowling through the Steelers defense for five yards and a first down.
3:38: First-and-ten from the Cin-27, Palmer dumps it off to Rudi for about three yards over the middle. Second-and-seven, Palmer in no-huddle drops back and throws left to Chad Johnson for a 14-yard pick up.
3:37: AFC WILD CARD UPDATE: Quinn Gray scored on his second rushing touchdown of the game. The Chiefs still lead 35-24.
3:34: First-and-goal, Parker gets the pitch to the right for a three-yard pick up to the one-yard line. Second-and-goal, Parker gets the handoff, over the middle for the touchdown. Steelers lead 14-10.
3:32: Third-and-three at the Cin-21, Ben drops back and throws over the middle to Hines Ward for a first down. Steelers have a first down at the 4-yard line.
3:31: First-and-ten at the Cin-28, Parker runs left for only a two-yard pickup. Second-and-eight and Sam Adams is called for a neutral zone infraction. These pre-snap fouls are sick man, sick! Second-and-three, Parker gets the handoff to the right for a no-gain. The Bengals stuffed the point of attack.
3:30: First-and-ten from the Cin-43, Ben drops back and dumps it off to Kreider in the right flats for 15 yards.
3:29: First-and-ten from the Pitt-37, Parker gets the handoff for about three yards. Second-and-seven, Ben drops back and throws to the right to Holmes. The pass was a little low, but no one was pressuring Ben or Holmes. First down after the 17 yard pass.
3:25: Henry, lined up to the left runs up about 10-15 yards and then in. Palmer hits Henry in stride running an in route in between defenders in zone coverage. Henry, after a few shakes and shimmers, completed the 66 yard touchdown. BENGALS TOUCHDOWN AND LEAD 10-7.
3:23: BENGALS TOUCHDOWN BENGALS TOUCHDOWN BENGALS TOUCHDOWN BENGALS TOUCHDOWN.
3:22: Then Big Willie false start. What is that? Five-six false starts -- at home? First-and-15 at the 15, Palmer with empty backfield throws to the right to a sitting Chad Johnson for 14 yards. Rudi takes the handoff and picks up the first down on a five-yard run.
3:21: Landon Johnson forced the ball out barely hitting the football. No one else did, or would have, touched Parker and he would have had that touchdown.
3:20: First-and-goal from the nine, Parker gets the ball up the middle AND LOST THE FOOTBALL AT THE ONE INCH LINE! BENGALS HAVE THE BALL! TOUCHBACK.
3:19: Third-and-ten, Ben drops back and steps up into the pocket and takes off picking up 11 yards and a first down.
3:17: On second-and-five, Justin Smith penetrated the line and dropped Parker for a five-yard loss. Ben calls a timeout.
3:15: AFC WILD CARD UPDATE: Larry Johnson scored his third rushing touchdown putting the Chiefs up 35-17. Mike Nugent kicked a 35-yard field goal to put the Jets up 23-3 over the Raiders.
3:14: First-and-ten, Ben hands off to Parker for about five yards. Parker thus far has rushed 28 times for 118 yards. On the other hand, Rudi has rushed nine times for 31 yards. Third quarter is over.
3:13: Second-and-nine, Ben throws backwards to Ward who was going to throw. However, the pressure forced Ward to run. With about three missed tackles, Ward picks up 21 yards. After the play, Colon was called for taunting pushing the Steelers back to the 20 yard line when it was at the five.
3:11: Ben hands of to Davenport running left and picking up another 20 yards. The Steelers are killing our defensive line. Now, it's first-and-ten at the Cin-26, Ben hands off to Davenport for a no-gain. Landon Johnson made the hit that slowed him down.
3:10: First-and-ten at the Pitt-43, Ben dumps off to Kreider for four yards in the right flats. Second-and-six, Ben hands off to Davenport bowling through the Bengals defense for seven yards and a first down.
3:08: With the Steelers picking up 30 yards on the past two plays, Parker picks up another nine. Second-and-one at the Pitt-40, Parker gets the handoff and picks up three yards and another first down. Awful.
3:06: On the following first down, Parker stretches out to the left on a run and picks up another 17 yards.
3:06: After Tory James defended Hines Ward great causing an incomplete, Ben gets hit in the end-zone by Dexter Jackson who tried to slap the ball out rather than sacking him. He got out of that and dumped off to Tuman for 13 yards and a first down.
3:05: AFC WILD CARD UPDATE: Leon Washington runs for 15 yards giving the Jets a 20-3 lead.
3:04: AFC WILD CARD UPDATE: Jags score a touchdown on a nine-yard Quinn Gray run. Chiefs still winning 28-17.
3:02: Second-and-ten, Palmer under intense pressure on a screen play, threw to Watson on the right way too soon. Incomplete. Third-and-ten, Palmer drops back and throws about 2 miles over Chris Henry's head. Incomplete. Punt. Here's the results of the Bengals drives: punt, punt, punt, field goal, punt, punt, punt.
3:00: First-and-ten at the Cin-35, Palmer looks right and throws deep to T.J. Housh had the ball and he got smacked by Anthony Smith and he's down. The hit jarred the ball loose forcing the ball down.
2:58: Bengals get first-and-ten with 8:15 left in the third quarter at the Cin-21. Palmer looks right and quickly hits T.J. for about a five-yard gain. Second-and-five, Palmer hands of Rudi and he picks up about nine yards and the first down.
2:54: AFC WILD CARD UPDATE: Larry Johnson runs for two yards into the end-zone giving the Chiefs a 28-10 lead.
2:53: Third-and-seven, Ben in shotgun, throws over the middle of the field for an incomplete. Johnathan Joseph broke up the play on Nate Washington. Steelers punt.
2:52: On first-and-ten at the Pitt-40, Parker runs left and cuts back up the middle. John Thornton made a shoe-string tackle that could have gone for a long long way. Second-and-eight, Parker goes pitch right and picks up a no-gain.
2:49: First-and-ten at the Cin-22, Palmer hands off to Rudi for about two yards. Second-and-eight, Palmer drops back and throws over the middle to T.J. who just dropped it. Third-and-eight, Palmer drops back and throws to the right and overthrows T.J. badly. Bengals punt.
2:45: First-and-ten at the 32, Parker gets the handoff to the right and picks up three yards to the right. On second down, Parker only picks up a yard. Then on third down, Ben tries to drop it off to Heath Miller and it's knocked down by Landon Johnson. Steelers punt.
2:42: First-and-ten at the Pitt-20, Parker runs to the left for a five yard gain. Second-and-five, Parker runs up the middle for seven yards and another first down.
2:41: AFC WILD CARD UPDATE: Mike Nugent kicks a 22-yard field goal to give the Jets a 13-3 lead.
2:39: On second-and-two, Rudi gets hit at the line of scrimmage and picks up a yard. Levi Jones return is questionable and Landon Johnson is also question. Third-and-one, Palmer on play-action gets slammed on a blitz. Palmer had to get the ball out immediately to Rudi who wasn't ready for the pass that fell short anyway.
2:37: Palmer drops back on first down and completes a 9 yard pass. Then Chad was body slammed by #92 and was called for a personal foul. That was a 24 yard play. Then on the following first down, Rudi picks up another eight on the ground.
2:37: Bengals have the ball. Only being down four points, we still have a half to get things going. FYI, Andrew Whitworth is in for Levi Jones. First-and-ten from the Cin-26 and Whitworth false starts.
First downs: Steelers 12, Bengals 5
Total Yards: Steelers 151, Bengals 93
Third Downs: Steelers 4/6 (67%), Bengals 4/8 (50%)
Time of Pos: Steelers 20:02, Bengals 9:58
Palmer: 10/18, 84 yards
Big Ben: 10/13, 81 yards, INT
Rudi: 5 rushes for 11 yards
Parker: 18 rushes for 66 yards, TD
T.J.: 3 receptions for 39 yards
Chad: 1 reception for 16 yards
Kenny Watson: 4 receptions for 19 yards.
Ward: 4 receptions for 34 yards
Wilson: 3 receptions for 30 yards
2:22: The first half is over. Bengals losing 7-3.
2:21: AFC WILD CARD UPDATE: Eddie Kennison catches a 35-yard pass from Trent Green to go up 21-10.
2:20: Shayne Graham kicks a 34-yard field goal to put Cincinnati on the board, 7-3.
2:18: Second-and-goal at the Pitt-6 and Eric Steinbach false starts. Je-sus. Second-and-goal at the Pitt-11 and Carson Palmer false starts -- actually Eric G. forgot the snap count. That's 10 yards on false start penalties. Now it's second-and-goal at the Pitt-16. Second-and-goal at the Pitt-16 and Palmer rolls out right and dumps it off to Kenny Watson for no-gain. Third-and-goal and Palmer throws up to the back right pylon... incomplete.
2:16: AFC WILD CARD UPDATE: Jets kicked a field goal to go up 10-3.
2:16: First-and-goal at the Pitt-4, Palmer hands off to Rudi who lost a yard. Bengals called their final timeout with :46 seconds left in the half.
2:14: Third-and-three, at the Pitt-12. (note: even though T.J. was hurt and medical staff came out, the Bengals called a timeout immediately after the play was over meaning that T.J. can play on this down.). Palmer, in shotgun, shovels to Kenny Watson for an eight-yard gain and a first down.
2:13: On first down, Palmer threw way in front of T.J. for the incomplete on the left. On second-and-ten, Palmer drops back and completes to T.J. for seven yards. T.J. got hurt on the play and it looks like he just feel on the football knocking the wind out.
2:09: Two minute warning. The Bengals are at Pitt-19 with a first-and-ten.
2:08: On first down, Palmer drops back and throws right on a timing out pattern for a 16-yard pickup. First-and-ten from the Pitt-30, Palmer hands off to Jeremi Johnson for a small no-gain. Second-and-ten, Palmer on play-action, dumps the ball over the middle that falls harmlessly incomplete. Brad Keisel hits Palmer low in the knee. No flag. Third-and-ten, Palmer in shotgun, dumps it off to Kenny Watson over the middle for 11 yards and the first down.
2:06: Bengals, at their own 41-yard line, start the drive with only one first down in this game. Palmer drops back and dumps it off to Kenny Watson running a swing pass in the right flats for a one-yard gain. On second-and-nine, Palmer hands off to Rudi running to the right off-tackle picking up a stellar four yards. Third-and-six, Palmer fires to T.J. for a nine yard pick up and the Bengals second first down in the game.
2:02: AFC WILD CARD UPDATE: It's fourth-and-goal at the one and Larry Johnson scores a touchdown. The Chiefs go up 14-10.
2:01: Parker, again hitting his offensive line after John Thornton caused some havoc, is dropped for a three-yard loss after Geathers finished him off. Second-and-13, Ben drops back dumps off a screen to the left to Willie Parker for two yards. On third-and-12, the Bengals bring six, Ben looks right and then rolls out left from pressure. Kevin Kaesviharn, after missing the initial sack on the blitz, catches up to Ben rolling right for the sack. Steelers punt.
1:59: On first down, Ben completes a quick pass to Holmes for a six yards. Second-and-four at the Pitt-21, Parker gets the handoff for a no-gain. Great job by the d-line to stuff the line of scrimmage. Justin Smith mostly. Third-and-four, Ben, in shotgun, looks left and throws over the middle to Wilson for eight yards and a first down. Here we go again.
1:55: AFC WILD CARD UPDATE: Jags kicked a 33-yard field goal to take the lead, 10-7. I put the scores above in red meaning it's really bad news.
1:54: Third-and-six, Palmer drops back and throws over the middle to Chris Henry. The play was broken up by James Farrior and the pass was incomplete. The ball was slightly behind Henry. If he led Henry a little more, it probably would have been completed. Anyway, Bengals punt.
1:53: On first down, Palmer hands off to Rudi cutting back to the backside (left) and picking up six yards. Second-and-four, Eric G. thought the Steelers were off-sides and Palmer knells down. Nope, no off-sides. Bengals just lost a down. Third-and-six.
1:52: There's 10:55 left in the first half and the Bengals have run nine plays.
1:48: AFC WILD CARD UPDATE: Raiders kick a field goal and are losing, 7-3.
1:46: Steelers score a touchdown on a run to the left. The Steelers are dominating the line of scrimmage. The Steelers take the lead after a 15-play, 90-yard drive that took 8:34 off the clock.
1:46: On first-and-ten, Parker runs right for two yards. Second-and-eight, Ben hands off to Parker running right and bowling his way down to the one-inch line. Parker fumbled the ball after going down, but the ground caused it and they called it down.
1:43: Parker runs for the 12th and 13th time today picking up a combined six yards setting up a third-and-four. Ben, in shotgun, throws left to Hines Ward running a crossing pattern picking up six yards and the first down.
1:42: Second-and-one from the 27, Ben hands off to Parker up the middle picking up a first down.
1:41: AFC WILD CARD UPDATE: Fred Taylor scored on a 26-yard touchdown. Chiefs and Jags tied at 7.
1:40: Parker takes the pitch right and then hands off to Hines Ward on an end-around picking up another nine yards. End of the first quarter and the Steelers are dominating the time of possession.
Also, Palmer is 3/7 for 33 yards. Basically having the same performance as he's had the past two weeks. Rudi has two rushes for three yards. In all, the Bengals offense has run nine plays in the first quarter to the Steelers' 20.
1:37: After Ben completed a 14-yard pass to Wilson, the Steelers run a wide receiver screen to Hines Ward for another nine yards. Second-and-one, Parker gets the handoff and runs up the middle for a first down. Landon Johnson was hurt on the first down play.
1:36: After an incomplete to Dan Kreider, Ben hands off to Parker picking up 10 yards. The Bengals defensive line just isn't getting off the blocks.
1:34: With the Steelers at their own 11 after an illegal block in the back on a punt that fell in the end-zone, Big Ben completed a short slant to Wilson for eight yards. Second-and-two, Ben hands off to Parker up the middle picking up nine yards and a first down.
1:30: On first down, Palmer hands off to Rudi on a misdirection up the middle. Rudi picked up four. On second, Palmer drops back and tosses to Reggie Kelly running towards the left sidelines setting up a third and two. Palmer, with the entire right side of the line letting James Farrior blitzing is forced to throw the ball away. Bengals punt.
1:27: Big Ben fakes the run to the left and then rolls out right. He throws right before getting hammered directly to Tory James (like he was the primary receiver) making a Willie Mays catch deep down the middle of the field. James returns the ball to the Cincinnati 48. YES!
1:25: Parker picked up nine yards on the first two runs setting up a third-and-one at the 29. Handoff to Willie Parker up the middle and another Landon Johnson miss tackle gives the Steelers a first down after a six-yard pick up.
1:23: AFC WILD CARD UPDATE: Chad Pennington completed a one-yard pass for touchdown putting the Jets up 7-0.
1:23: Well the Bengals offense looks to be going in the air today. On the first possession, the Bengals went five passes to one rush.
1:22: Kyle Larson has been bad-ass this season. He's kicked some mammoth punts. Better yet, his number of shanks, it seems, is way down. He kicked the ball 58 yards into the end-zone bringing the Steelers out to the 20.
1:20: AFC WILD CARD UPDATE After the Jets went three-and-out, the Raiders fumbled the ball on third-and-four giving the ball back to the Jets. The Jets are threatening. Kansas City blocked a punt and recovered for a touchdown and lead the Jags 7-0.
1:18: After Rudi Johnson lost a yard on a handoff, Palmer dropped back on second down and missed Rudi Johnson on a swing pass. Third-and-11, Palmer drops back and throws to Chris Henry running a crossing pattern for six yards. Bengals punt. Ike Taylor is down and hurt.
1:16: Third-and-ten, Palmer in shotgun throws to the right completing the pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh for 23 yards and the first down. The Bengals offense is going to throw all day..
1:16: On first down, Palmer throws a rainbow pass to the right. The pass was a little over-thrown to Chris Henry. Townsend just had position and the ball fell incomplete.On second down, Palmer drops back and throws another rainbow pass to Chad Johnson. The pass was a little underthrown.
1:12: Third-and-five, Big Ben in shotgun, looks right and then throws over the middle. The ball was knocked down by Johnathan Joseph forcing the Steelers off the field. Punt.
1:11: AFC WILD CARD UPDATE: Jets offense goes three-and-out and punt. Score: 0-0.
1:11: On first-and-ten, at the Cincinnati 40, Parker took a pitch to the left for three yards. They ran the same pitch to the left for two yards setting up a third-and-five.
1:09: On first down, the Steeler ran a screen to the right. Landon Johnson was there and just over-ran Parker. After picking up nine yards, the Steelers have a second-and-one. That was easily picked up after a play-action pass to Hines Ward to the right on a comeback route for 11-yards.
1:08: The timeout was because Cincinnati had 12-men on the field. Third-and-five at the 29, Big Ben in shotgun looked left and ripped it to Hines Ward -- a little high. Ratliff was in on the play. First down.
1:07: AFC WILD CARD UPDATE: The Raiders offense went three-and-out and punt.
1:06: After Parker picked up five yards on first down, he got the handoff again to the left. Rashad Jeanty was in the way dropping Parker for no-gain setting up a third-and-five. Then the Bengals take another early timeout.
1:04: Ethan Kilmer. Awesome. On the kickoff, the Steelers grouped up and was handed off. Kilmer then made the tackle at the nine-yard line. Then as the Bengals tried to pull the ball from Holmes, Caleb Miller slugged him in the helmet. Personal foul. Now the Steelers start at the 24.
1:03: Bengals wearing black shirts and white pants are, historically, 5-9.
1:00: Kickoff is close.