2005 AFC Wildcard Steelers 31 at Bengals 17
Subtext goes here
"Who Dey?" WE Dey! Ah, the Bungles... who else would lose their freshly inked $118M franchise QB on only the 2nd play of their first playoff game in 15-years at the hands of an ex-teammate? Tough break for Carson Palmer, but a word of wisdon to TJ Houshmandzadeh: Never desecrate a Terrible Towel.
Despite the injury to Palmer, the Steelers fall behind 17-7 in the 2nd quarter courtesy of a Rudi Johnson 20-yd TD run and a Kitna 7-yd toss to Houshmandzadeh. But as the game progresses, blitzes on Kitna increase, holes in the coverages tighten and Kitna begins to struggle, suffering 2 INTs, 4 sacks and finishing with a 60.1 rating. Meanwhile, Roethlisberger is near-perfect in his decision-making and execution, going 14 of 19 for 208 yds, 3 TDs and no INTs.
The turning point comes early in the 2nd half when the Bengals botch the snap on a short FG attempt and the Steelers take over with good field position. Ben immediately throws a 45-yd bomb to Randle El, who drops the perfect pass in the end zone but draws a flag for pass interference, setting the Steelers up 1st-and-goal from the 5. On the next play, Bettis bursts into the end zone for a 21-17 Steelers lead and the Steelers never look back.
After a disasterous Bengal 3-and-out, the Steelers deliver the knockout blow on a stunning, back-breaking badget play of a bomb. On 3rd and 5, Randle El lines up next to Ben and takes the direct snap, runs right, then turns and throws a lateral pass back across the field to Ben, who then heaves a beauty of a bomb to a wiiide open Cedrick Wilson, who skips into the end zone untouched for a 43-yd TD. Phil Simms is calling the game, and Wilson is so wide open that Simms yells "Touchdown!" before Ben even throws the ball.
Enjoy the offseason, Bungles! For the record, Kimo von Oelhoffen's hit on Carson Palmer, while unfortunate, was not a dirty play, although Bengals fans continue to cry foul to this day.