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Bengals Bytes (12/19): Just a dip?

Are the Bengals on the decline, or is this just life in the NFL? The Ravens pulled off an entertaining finish to keep their playoff hopes alive. Ezekiel Elliott performed a celebration even Chad Johnson would be proud of.

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Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Bengals corner Kirkpatrick on refs

Bengals defensive back Dre Kirkpatrick discusses the officiating in Sunday's loss at Paul Brown Stadium.

Esiason Calls Bengals Dip "Life In The NFL"

This is my sixth year as the Bengals radio play-by-play announcer and the first time I will not have the opportunity to call a playoff game. Is it just a one year dip? They’re asking the same question in Carolina and Arizona. The two teams that met in the NFC Championship Game last year are a combined 10-16-1 this year.

Steelers rally knocks out Bengals, 24-20

Rallying from a pair of 14-point deficits in the first half, the Steelers defense came out of the locker room to strangle the Bengals and shut them out in the second half while racking up a 24-20 victory on a day both the Ravens and Pittsburgh eliminated Cincinnati from the play-off chase Sunday before 62,096 at Paul Brown Stadium.

Quick hits: Bengals wonder about flags; Fourth-quarter woes; Fish swims; Alex almost

To sum up their frustrations, the only time the Bengals finished all day in Sunday’s 24-20 loss to the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium they were called for a penalty. Defensive tackle Pat Sims was called for roughing Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell on a first-and-10 from the Bengals 33 when he tried to throw back Bell on a play there was no gain.

Steelers at Bengals Postgame Quotes

Unfortunately, it’s evident we’re not finishing the second half of the football game. Play the first half and move the football, and do a good job on offense, limit the opportunities defensively, and hold them to field goals — and then to not get it done in the second half. We scored 20 points in the first half and none in the second. That’s unfortunately the story of a lot of our season — we come up short, and our inability to score points in the second half. Defensively, we allowed plays in the second half we shouldn’t allow as well. As a football team, we did not finish the game the right way.

Bengals notes: Reality hits with playoffs gone

Domata Peko stood in the locker room after Sunday's loss to the Steelers and couldn't help but show a touch of emotion as the topic turned to the Bengals officially being eliminated from the playoffs.

Analysis: Why Steelers beat Bengals

We’ve seen this before, right? Not flashing back to the January playoff loss. No, this loss flashed back to nearly every important game during the 2016 season. The Bengals earned opportunities to win critical tilts in the fourth quarter. This franchise made a living in these situations over the past five seasons.

No excuses, Bengals simply underachieved this season

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick got dressed slowly and quietly following a 24-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Kirkpatrick was frustrated with the officiating (the Bengals had five penalties in the fourth quarter, three on him), sad about the outcome of the season, but mostly just stunned that things had gotten to this point.

Bengals' George Iloka: I'm proud of Vontaze Burfict for keeping his composure

Cincinnati Bengals safety George Iloka didn’t have much to be happy about after a 24-20 loss to the Steelers eliminated his team from playoff contention. He was, however, happy and proud of the way teammate Vontaze Burfict played, and made sure to point Burfict out specifically when asked if he thought the team kept its cool against the Steelers.

AFC North Bytes

Pittsburgh Steelers to Cincinnati Bengals' Jeremy Hill: Careful of the curse of the Terrible Towel

Don't touch the Terrible Towel. That was the message out of the Pittsburgh Steelers' locker room after Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill pretended to rip the famed black-and-gold towel after his 4-yard touchdown run Sunday.

Bills overwhelm Browns, 33-13

Bills running back LeSean McCoy had a big day, and the Bills pulled away from the overmatched Browns Sunday to win, 33-13. McCoy ran for 153 yards and a pair of second-half touchdowns. McCoy’s second touchdown was the Bills’ 27th rushing touchdown of the season, tying a franchise record.

Recap: Ravens skid to finish but beat Eagles 27-26

The Ravens’ playoff hopes are alive and well after they thwarted a potential season-defining collapse. The Ravens broke up the Philadelphia Eagles' potential game-winning 2-point conversion attempt with four seconds to play, and held on for a 27-26 victory before an announced 71,223 at rainy and windy M&T Bank Stadium.

Random Bytes

Craig Sager’s Turner Sports obituary, more Media Circus

Turner Sports creative director Drew Watkins delivered on a beautiful piece about Craig Sager he never wanted to write, plus what to make of Mike Greenberg’s new contract with ESPN.

Raiders clinch first playoff berth since 2002 with win

A loyal and vocal bunch, Raiders fans have been through hell this century. No longer. Sunday's victory sealed Oakland's first playoff berth since 2002 and helped them regain sole possession of the AFC West after Kansas City (10-4) fell to the Titans. With games remaining against the Colts and Broncos, the Raiders simply need to hold serve to nab a coveted bye in the AFC.

Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey says “homer” ref should be fired

Not satisfied with contributing to his own coach’s unemployment last night, Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey wants more people fired.

Dallas Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott on Salvation Army kettle hop: 'It's the perfect celebration'

Ezekiel Elliott won't soon forget his franchise-record-setting 13th rushing touchdown of his rookie season. Neither will anybody else given how much it will be replayed in the future. The Dallas Cowboys running back celebrated by jumping into an oversized Salvation Army red kettle in the end zone during the Cowboys' 26-20 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, quickly hiding from everybody before popping out.

Denver Broncos' frustrations boil over after loss to Patriots

Their bid for another epic victory over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, and possibly their chance to defend a Super Bowl championship, ended with a whimper Sunday afternoon in front of 76,893 chilled and dejected fans at Sports Authority Field. Then, immediately following a 16-3 feat to their formidable AFC rivals, the Broncos' frustrations boiled over, as a seemingly ho-hum attempt at postgame unity began and ended with a bang.