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Bengals WR A.J. Green recalls the fumble against the Steelers

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The A.J. Green fumble, late in the fourth quarter against the Steelers, did two things: 1) it gave the Steelers an opportunity to seal the win and win the AFC North and 2) forced Green to miss the 2014 playoffs.

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers Punter Brad Wing launched a pop-up to centerfield on a fake punt that Dane Sanzenbacher intercepted with 5:50 remaining in the game. Cincinnati, only down by three points during the regular season finale, started from their own 41-yard line. There was an actual belief that they were preparing a game-winning drive that would give Cincinnati the division title and a home game against the Baltimore Ravens -- a team that Cincinnati swept this season.

Following a six-yard pass to Green and a pair of Jeremy Hill runs, the Bengals had first down from the Steelers' 48-yard line with four minutes remaining in regulation. Dalton targeted Green on a quick slant. Cornerback Antwon Blake stripped the football away from Green, which was recovered by the Steelers -- Green also suffered a concussion on the play, which forced him to sit out against the Indianapolis Colts the following week.

This play deconstructed everything that Cincinnati had hoped to accomplish in the postseason this year. It lost the AFC North and it forced Cincinnati's biggest offensive threat to miss the playoffs -- completely neutering Cincinnati's passing game.

When asked if he still thinks about that play, Green admitted that he does. "We could have had position to have a home (playoff) game," said Green via Bengals.com. "I think we had a shot (to win it.) You never know. I was trying to tuck the ball away. I should have got down because I saw the safety coming. The dude just made a good play." Green called the shot from Mike Mitchell a "freak hit" but adding that "it was very tough watching the next week. You're watching (a 26-10 loss) and there's nothing you can do about it."

Three plays later, Pittsburgh had third and eight from the Steelers' 37-yard line with 3:01 remaining in the game. Ben Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown with a 63-yard touchdown to give the Steelers a 27-17 lead with 3:01 remaining... and the eventual win.