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Steelers win 16-13, but help doesn’t come in Baltimore

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 30: T.J. Watt #90 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after a sack in the third quarter during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on December 30, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

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The Steelers didn’t look good against the Bengals on Sunday, but they needed a win more than they needed to look pretty.

They got that win when kicker Matt McCrane made his third field goal of the day with two minutes left in the game. The kick made the score 16-13 and the Steelers defense came up with the stop they needed to end the season with a 9-6-1 record.

Winning alone wasn’t enough to send the Steelers to the playoffs as they needed either a Ravens loss to the Browns or a tie in Sunday night’s game between the Titans and Colts to push them to the postseason. Players remained in a packed Heinz Field to watch the final minutes of the game in Baltimore and root for their divisional rivals from Cleveland.

Their wish did not come true. The Ravens held on and the Steelers are now clinging to the slimmest of playoff threads.

The Steelers were shut out for the entire first half until McCrane, who was signed this week when Chris Boswell went on injured reserve, hit a field goal at the whistle to put them in the locker room down 10-3. Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception that Shaun Williams took back for the Bengals’ only touchdown of the game, but bounced back to hit JuJu Smith-Schuster for a touchdown in the second half.

Roethlisberger went over 5,000 yards for the season while going 31-of-45 for 287 yards. The Steelers offense appeared to miss wide receiver Antonio Brown, who sat with a knee injury, but they were able to just enough to back up an outstanding defensive performance.

It wasn’t enough, though, and four losses in the five previous games proved to be too much for the Steelers to overcome.