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Late field goal clinches Steelers win in thrilling wild card finale

The Kansas City Chiefs also claimed victory, extending their winning streak to 11, as they comfortably saw off the Houston Texans.

Pittsburgh Steelers' Chris Boswell (9) celebrates a 35-yard game inning field goal.
Pittsburgh Steelers' Chris Boswell (9) celebrates a 35-yard game inning field goal.
Image: Frank Victores

CHRIS BOSWELL KICKED a last-gasp field goal as the Pittsburgh Steelers punished Cincinnati Bengals’ indiscipline to snatch an 18-16 victory in an ill-tempered AFC Wild Card battle between the bitter rivals last night.

The Bengals appeared to be on the brink of a dramatic comeback win in Cincinnati after overturning a 15-0 deficit in the fourth quarter to inch into a 16-15 lead with less than two minutes remaining.

But with victory beckoning the Bengals imploded.

They first squandered possession when Jeremy Hill fumbled to provide Pittsburgh’s injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger with the chance to mount one last drive from near their own goal line.

It got worse for the Bengals as Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones were both penalised to advance the Steelers to within field goal range, providing Boswell with a chip shot for glory.

Linebacker Burfict will likely face repercussions after this sickening head shot on Antonio Brown.

Roethlisberger had looked to be out of the game after being sacked heavily by Burfict at the end of the third quarter, carted from the field with missiles being thrown by sections of the partisan Cincinnati crowd.

But the veteran returned to the fray to inspire the Steelers on their game-winning drive.

The highlight of the game was this stunning touchdown catch by Martavis Bryant to help the Steelers extend their lead to 15 points.

The Steelers will now play the Denver Broncos in the next round of the American Football Conference playoffs.

The Kansas City Chiefs, who defeated the Houston Texans 30-0 earlier on Saturday, advance to a meeting with the New England Patriots next weekend.

The Bengals meltdown occurred after Hill and receiver A.J. Green had both crossed for touchdowns to help the home side take the lead late in the fourth quarter.

Burfict was censured for a wild head shot on Steelers receiver Antonio Brown before Jones lost his cool in a melee that advanced Pittsburgh into range.

Jones was later seen sobbing on the sidelines after the defeat — before unleashing a profanity-laced tirade at match officials on Instagram which was swiftly deleted.

“We destructed on ourselves, offense and defense together,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said, declining to condemn Burfict, whose late high hit on Brown proved the catalyst for Jones’ game-changing outburst.

“… Calls went different ways,” Lewis said. “They deemed that to be a hit to the head, I guess and others, not, today.”

Roethlisberger declined to be drawn on the status of his shoulder after the win.

“We won the game, that’s all that matters,” he said.

Unbeaten streak

In Houston earlier, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith completed 17 of 22 passes for 190 yards and one touchdown as Kansas City stretched their unbeaten streak to 11 games in the latest victory of a rollercoaster season which has seen them recover from a 1-5 start.

Houston’s challenge unravelled after a nightmare display from quarterback Brian Hoyer, who was intercepted four times while making only 15 of 34 attempts for 136 yards.

The Chiefs have not appeared in the Super Bowl since winning the championship in 1970.

The Chiefs got off to a dream start when Knile Davis romped home for a 106-yard kick-off return with the game only seconds old.

Houston’s attempts to recover from the early setback were undone by an erratic first half display from Hoyer, who threw three interceptions before the break.

“I picked the wrong time to have the worst game,” Hoyer said. “It’s tough. Own up to it and learn from it. Embarrassing.”

Only superb defence from Houston kept the home side in the hunt, restricting Kansas City to two long-range field goals from Brazilian-born kicker Cairo Santos to put the visitors 13-0 up at the half.

Kansas City then took advantage of the injury absence of Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt in the third quarter to stretch their lead.

Smith picked out receiver Chris Conley — who had replaced the injured Jeremy Maclin only moments earlier — to put the Chiefs 19-0 up, Santos adding the point for 20-0.

Spencer Ware added a fourth quarter touchdown before Santos added a further field goal to complete the scoring.

© AFP 2016

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