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Steelers-Bengals highlights, lowlights

December 24, 2012
By Buck Frank ( , The Altoona Mirror

PITTSBURGH - The following are the highlights and lowlights from the Steelers' 13-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at Heinz Field:

Play of the game: With 24 seconds remaining in the game, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger overthrew Mike Wallace and was intercepted by Cincinnati safety Reggie Nelson near midfield. The play set up Josh Brown's game-winning 43-yard field goal.

Offensive player of the game: Cincinnati receiver A.J. Green caught 10 passes for 166 yards.

Defensive player of the game: Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins recorded 2.5 sacks and forced a fumble.

Most telling statistic: The Steelers converted just 2-of-14 third-down opportunities.

Notable statistic: The Bengals won despite averaging less than 1 yard per rushing attempt.

Fact Box

Uncertain offseason

The Steelers were officially eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday. The following is a list of current Steelers who will be free agents after next week's season finale in Cleveland:


QBs: Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich

RBs: Rashard Mendenhall

WRs: Mike Wallace, Plaxico Burress

TEs: Leonard Pope

OL: Max Starks, Ramon Foster, Doug Legursky

DL: Casey Hampton

LBs: Larry Foote, Brandon Johnson

DBs: Keenan Lewis, Will Allen, Ryan Mundy, Justin King

Special teams: Greg Warren


RBs: Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman

WRs: Emmanuel Sanders

DL: Steve McLendon

LBs: Stevenson Sylvester


RBs: Baron Batch

DBs: DeMarcus Van Dyke

Best pass: Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton threw a 21-yard pass to Green near the sideline on the first play after Nelson's interception to get the Bengals in field-goal range.

Worst pass: Roethlisberger misfired on a throw to tight end Heath Miller early in the game, and cornerback Leon Hall returned the interception 17 yards for the Bengals' only touchdown of the game.

Best run: Pittsburgh's Rashard Mendenhall ran over Bengals safety Chris Crocker en route to a 20-yard gain in the second quarter.

Best catch: Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham snagged a high throw down the middle of the field for a 25-yard pickup in the third quarter.

Dropped pass: Cincinnati wide receiver Marvin Jones went over Pittsburgh's Keenan Lewis but couldn't hold on to the ball in the end zone in the second quarter.

Best block: Steelers fullback Will Johnson sprung Mendenhall for a 12-yard run in the fourth quarter to get the Steelers close to field-goal range.

Missed block: Pittsburgh rookie right guard David DeCastro was beaten twice for sacks by Atkins.

Best tackle: Steelers safety Troy Polamalu timed the snap and jumped on Dalton for a 6-yard sack in the third quarter.

Best hit: Lewis knocked Jones out of bounds on a third-and-7 pass in the first quarter.

Missed tackle: Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen allowed Green to escape for a 15-yard reception on a short pass in the fourth quarter.

Best coverage: Allen made a few big plays, including intercepting two passes and forcing a fumble.

Worst coverage: Cincinnati cornerback Adam Jones bit on a Roethlisberger pump fake and allowed Antonio Brown to get deep for a 60-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

Best kick: Cincinnati's Kevin Huber booted a 54-yard punt that bounced out of bounds at the 2-yard line in the second quarter.

Worst kick: The Steelers' Shaun Suisham sailed a 24-yard field-goal attempt wide left, although the cause might have been a bad snap from Greg Warren.

Best return: Pittsburgh's Chris Rainey took the opening kickoff 34 yards.

Costliest penalty: A holding call against Cincinnati's Jason Allen wiped out a 62-yard punt return by Adam Jones in the first quarter.

Best decision: Cincinnati ran a shovel pass - from Dalton to Brandon Tate - to perfection in the second quarter, gaining 23 yards.

Worst decision: Steelers coach Mike Tomlin should have told his team to take a knee with 44 seconds remaining and on its own 11-yard line, rather than risking a turnover.

Best effort: Cortez Allen stepped up to guard Green with Lewis hobbling and Ike Taylor out of the game.

Unsung hero: Huber had a 48.3-yard net average on his six punts.

Challenges: Tomlin was able to get one call overturned when he challenged that Green was short of the line of gain in the third quarter. However, it didn't matter when Pittsburgh nose tackle Casey Hampton was called for offside on the next play.

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