The Cincinnati Bengals’ fourth-quarter comeback against the Pittsburgh Steelers Saturday night was highly improbable. Their subsequent meltdown was even more jaw-dropping. That is, until you remember they’re the Cincinnati Bengals.
In one of the most bizarre finishes to an NFL playoff game in recent memory, the Bengals overcame a 15-0 fourth-quarter deficit, coughed up a fumble with 1 minute 36 seconds to go on the Pittsburgh 26-yard line, then committed back-to-back personal fouls — first on Vontaze Burfict, then on Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones — to set up Steelers kicker Chris Boswell’s game-winning 35-yard field goal.
The 18-16 defeat was soul-crushing, even for a fan base intimately familiar with the Bengals’ annual postseason routine since their last playoff win in 1991.
The Bengals have been one of the league’s most consistent teams since quarterback Andy Dalton arrived in 2011, as they’ve gone 52-27 in the regular season since that time. But it hasn’t yielded the woebegone franchise any playoff glory, nor has it done any favors for Coach Marvin Lewis, who now falls to 0-7 in his playoff career. Lewis is the second-longest tenured head coach in the NFL behind New England Patriots boss Bill Belichick.
The Steelers, meanwhile, emerged from the devastating collapse unscathed and feeling pretty good about the whole thing.