The Pittsburgh Steelers remain alive after seemingly all hope had vanished in Cincy

SteelCityInsider's Jim Wexell with his bullet-point notebook from a zany playoff win by the Steelers.

From the notebook of a sportswriter who woke up this morning with an Allman Brothers song in his head:
* Good ol' Sunday morning, bells are ringing everywhere.
* And I'm not saying I'm Antonio Brown.
* The beauty of winning on a Saturday in the playoffs is that it's a football Sunday and just about everyone for whom you write is in a good mood.
* And Antonio and Ben Roethlisberger -- and even DeAngelo Williams -- have an extra day to recover.
* This will be a week of chasing injury reports. My gut tells me Brown will be the biggest question mark.

* I didn't expect this Cincinnati game to be easy, and the Denver game will be just as physical. The price one pays for playing teams without quarterbacks.

* Peyton Manning, I'm sorry but this means you, too. Each passing playoff season the legend's arm gets worse, more raggedy. I'm expecting another teen to teen game because of it.

* How will history remember this Steelers-Bengals game? There has to be a perfect moniker for it. Myron Cope, where are you when we need you?

* The Make-It-Rain Game?

* Just a shot at Pacman Jones bungling in the rain, that's all.

* Considering how this game was set up to replicate the playoff game in Cincinnati 10 years ago, there's little wonder Joey Porter was a major player.

* It was Porter, of course, on the field jawing with the Bengals after the vicious Vontaze Burfict hit to Brown's head drew critical 15-yard penalty. And it was Pacman who engaged with Porter and drew the second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty which moved Chris Boswell 15 yards closer for the game-winning field goal.

* It was a 30-yard penalty that the Bengals are decrying as 15 too many. But, hey, only one more 15-yarder and it would've given the Steelers about the same amount of penalty yardage as the Bengals got for the ridiculous pass-interference call on A.J. Green's defender.

* That 42-yard penalty put the ball at the Pittsburgh 4 and began the Bengals' great comeback early in the fourth quarter.

* A 35-yard field goal by the Bengals made moot (and muted) all of the complaining going on about Mike Tomlin's last conversion choice.

* I argued with a coaching friend of mine before Tomlin went for two that I would've gone for one and the 16-point lead, but I fully understood my friend's -- and Tomlin's -- choice to go for two and a 17-point lead. In the end, Tomlin turned out to have made the right call. The miss didn't matter; a two-point make would've sent this game into OT at 17-17.

* And we all would've missed an ending that will be talked about for decades.

* As the rain intensified, Landry Jones tried to put a drive together, and could've used that aforementioned pass-interference call on the third-and-four pass to Brown which included as much, if not more, contact than the 42-yard call.

* At it stood, the Bengals took the ball with 3:28 remaining, down 15-10, and QB A.J. McCarron finding his confidence. The drive ended with a 16-15 lead and Will Gay having given up his first touchdown pass of the season.

* Unless those who keep track of such things opt to blame safety Mike Mitchell for it.

* Jones came out for his third possession and was promptly intercepted by Burfict, who was looking like the new Ray Lewis, the dark angel Steelers fans loathed for heroic moments such as this one.

* But The Ohio State man stepped up and ripped away the hero's mantel as he was ripping the ball away from Jeremy Hill.

* Ryan Shazier, who was robbed of a potential touchdown late in the third quarter after blasting Gio Bernard and coming away free with a whistled-down fumble, only three snaps before Roethlisberger was injured by what might've been the only legal play Burfict made all night, was the star of the Steelers' defensive effort. He finished with 13 tackles as he ran around the field like he did in his first preseason game, in which we all stamped him for greatness.

* Greatness, your day has come.

* So Willis Reed Roethlisberger re-took the field for one more gasp this season. And he gave the franchise another gasp with a third-and-2 conversion, a 10-yard pass to offensive star Fitzgerald Toussaint, and a fourth-and-3 conversion, just ahead of the 30-yard Bengal Bungle.

* And if anyone had any more questions about Boswell's ice-cold demeanor, the first-year kicker answered them by booting the ball down what appeared to be the precise middle point between the goal posts. I'm sorry, Shaun Suisham, but this kid appears to be a keeper.

* In looking over the pressbox notes, the Steelers with 34 playoff wins have tied the Dallas Cowboys for most in NFL history.

* But a later note claims the Steelers are now 10-1 in third-game meetings with the same team, which are all playoff games. I have them at 10-2, which means someone's not counting the 1947 playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles. I don't like when historians ignore historical data in these ever-confusing and untrustworthy NFL stats. So let's move on to the game stats.

* I may not be clever enough to come up with a nickname for this Instant Classic, but I'm resourceful enough to steal one when I can. And "T-n-T" aptly describes the unlikely backfield combo of Toussaint and Jordan Todman. They rushed 28 times for 123 yards (4.4) and Toussaint added four catches for 60 yards. That was 183 yards of total offense from the Steelers backfield, the most since Williams was a young man back in Game 9 against the Raiders.

* Toussaint, Todman and Martavis Bryant were the offensive stars as Bryant "woke up" following Roethlisberger's "challenge." Bryant's highlight-reel catch -- with the ball pinned behind his knee as he did a somersault out the back of the end zone -- has been relegated to 29th-note status, even when the storyline was so seemingly scripted for his moment of glory. That's a testament to the largesse of the late-game Bengals Bungle.

* Give some note love to Alejandro Villanueva and Ramon Foster for blowing open the same hole twice in the game, and also to David DeCastro for driving Burfict 10 yards off the ball and planting him on his ass at the goal line.

* Sorry for the salty language, but even writers are flashing intensity in this one.

* That play precipitated what could go down as the greatest postseason catch in Steelers history by Bryant. And that's saying something with Misters Swann, Stallworth and Holmes already in the books.

* The biggest play of the game may have been turned in by Jarvis Jones and Cam Thomas when they respectively stripped and recovered a fumble as the Bengals were driving to eradicate, or at least cut in half, the Steelers' 6-0 lead. Instead, the Steelers went up by 9-0.

* If that wasn't the biggest defensive play of the night, perhaps the interception by Antwon Blake was.

* Yeah, now I'm just talking crazy talk. Martavis Bryant, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Jordan Todman, Jarvis Jones, Cam Thomas and Antwon Blake as heroes? Did that really happen?

* Or was it Joey Porter?

* Nah. It was Vontaze Burfict.

* Never forget Vontaze Burfict and the incredible Bengals Bungle of the 2015 playoffs.
* I know. You couldn't even if you tried.

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