Bengals in playoffs after 13-10 win over Steelers


Bengals in playoffs after 13-10 win over Steelers

PITTSBURGH (AP) Marvin Lewis raised his hand, wiped his brow and let out a ``whoo.''

There used to be a time when the Cincinnati Bengals coach would make a bad decision and his team would lose.

Only that doesn't happen anymore. Not with Andy Dalton and A.J. Green changing the Bengals' woeful history one gut-check victory at a time.

The second-year quarterback and wide receiver connected for a 21-yard completion in the final seconds, setting up Josh Brown's game-winning 43-yard field goal in a 13-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday to send the Bengals back to the playoffs.

``Obviously we know the history is that we haven't been (in the postseason) two years in a row for the last 30 years,'' Dalton said. ``But since I have been here I haven't known that. My class, me, A.J., some of these other guys, we come in and expect to go to the playoffs.''

A place the Bengals (9-6) are heading to once again after another late-game gaffe by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger tossed an interception on the second play of overtime a week ago in a loss to Dallas. This time his pass to Mike Wallace sailed high and Cincinnati safety Reggie Nelson returned it to the Pittsburgh 46.

Two plays later, Cincinnati clinched a wild-card berth while the Steelers (7-8) saw their postseason hopes disappear after losing for the fifth time in six games.

`'We should be (in the playoffs) if it wasn't for me,'' Roethlisberger said.

Roethlisberger's mistake helped the Bengals bail out their coach, who allowed Brown to attempt a 56-yard field goal in the swirling Heinz Field winds with 3:18 to go. The kick never had a chance and gave the Steelers a chance to put together a potential game-winning drive.

Looking back, Lewis admits he probably made the wrong choice.

``I make decisions to try and win the game,'' Lewis said. ``Today it kind of backfired on me.''

Just not on his team, which is heading to the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1981-82, six years before Green was born.

``This has been our goal coming in at the beginning of the season,'' Green said. ``A lot of people talked about we hadn't been in in back to back seasons in 30 years. I don't worry about that stuff. I've been here two years and we made the playoffs all two years. That's all we can control.''

Shredding the label as erratic - and sometimes comical - losers one improbable victory at a time, the Bengals, their precocious duo of Green and Dalton and their quickly improving defense have Cincinnati in uncharted territory.

The Bengals have been around since 1968. This is the first time they'll make the postseason in two straight non-strike years.

``I know they just think that there's some complex; there's no complex, you've just got to come play and win,'' Lewis said. ``This group in there has very little history of anything.''

Maybe that's why Bengals aren't doomed to repeat it.

Dalton completed 24 of 41 for 278 yards and two interceptions for the Bengals, which snapped a five-game losing streak to Pittsburgh. Green caught 10 passes for 116 yards and Cincinnati's defense never let the Steelers get comfortable. The Bengals sacked Roethlisberger four times and allowed Pittsburgh to complete just 2 of 14 third downs.

``Not our day and thus, not our year,'' Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. ``Just not enough significant plays at the moments. Sounds like a broken record but reality as we sit here.''

Pittsburgh did a decent job of keeping Dalton and Green in check, posting season highs with three turnovers and six sacks. The Bengals couldn't run the ball at all, managing just 14 yards against the NFL's top defense. Still, it wasn't enough for the Steelers, turning a season that looked so promising before Election Day into a muddled mess.

Instead of making playoff plans, the team that was 6-3 on Nov. 4 needs a win next week against Cleveland to avoid the first losing season in Tomlin's six-year tenure.

``It hurts bad, not making the playoffs,'' Pittsburgh cornerback Keenan Lewis said. ``We're going to be home with the rest of them, watching.''

Not Cincinnati, which took another step forward behind a young core intent on changing the perception of a team known not so long ago as ``the Bungles.''

``I grew up in Cincinnati so the city should be buzzing,'' punter Kevin Huber said. ``We have a big game next weekend. New we have to get ready to go to the playoffs.''

NOTES: Cincinnati's 14 yards rushing were the second-fewest in franchise history. The Bengals had 4 yards rushing against Baltimore in 2000 ... Pittsburgh TE Heath Miller left game in the fourth quarter with a right knee injury ... Brown is 8 of 9 since taking over for Nugent three weeks ago ... Five of Pittsburgh's eight losses this season have come by three points ... Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall had 50 yards rushing in his return after serving a one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Phil Chenier tells stories ahead of his jersey retirement

Associated Press

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Phil Chenier tells stories ahead of his jersey retirement

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by Bullets/Wizards legend Phil Chenier ahead of his jersey retirement set for this upcoming weekend on March 23.

Chenier looked back on his playing and broadcasting career and told great stories. He also shared some memories of the 1978 championship as the franchise gets ready to honor its 40th anniversary.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue stepping away from team to deal with health issues

USA Today Sports Images

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue stepping away from team to deal with health issues

An undiagnosed illness has convinced Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue to step away from the team indefinitely, the team announced on Monday. Assistant coach Larry Drew will take over in the interim.

Lue, 40, is hoping to address his health issues in time to return before the year is out. According to a statement on the team's website, he has been under the weather for quite some time.


Here is what Lue said on the matter in a press release:

I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.

While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season. My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the Championship we are all working towards.

That is scary stuff and certainly much bigger than basketball. But the surprising news happens to come at a crucial time in the Cavs' season. They are currently third in the Eastern Conference with only 13 games remaining before the playoffs.


The Cavs are just a half-game ahead of both the Wizards and Pacers in the standings. They will also have to reincorporate All-Star Kevin Love, likely sometime this week. 

That is a lot for Drew to deal with while Lue recovers and it adds another wrinkle to a Cavs' season that has been characterized by change.


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