CINCINNATI — The Steelers are heading to Denver.
The Bengals are heading to another long offseason after a meltdown as ugly and ill-timed as it was complete.
Chris Boswell hit a 35-yard field goal with 14 seconds left as Pittsburgh pulled out an 18-16 victory in an AFC wild-card game Saturday night.
Pittsburgh, with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returning after being injured, moved into field goal position after two 15-yard penalties on the Bengals. The first was on linebacker Vontaze Burfict for hitting a defenseless receiver in the helmet, the Steelers' Antonio Brown. The other was against cornerback Adam Jones for unsportsmanlike conduct after the play.
The two penalties gave the Steelers 30 yards, which set up Boswell for his fourth field goal of the game and gave the Steelers their first playoff win since the 2010 AFC Championship Game.
The Steelers (11-6) set up a meeting with the No. 1 seed Broncos on Jan. 17 and extended Cincinnati's playoff drought, which stretches back to 1990 and is the longest in the league.
The Bengals appeared to be in position for their first postseason win in 25 years before running back Jeremy Hill's fumble gave Pittsburgh one last shot.
Roethlisberger was carted off the field after injuring his right shoulder. He was taken to the locker room for examination after landing on his shoulder while being sacked by Burfict on the final play of the third quarter. Burfict drove Roethlisberger into the ground and the QB quickly walked to the trainers as backup Landry Jones began warming up.
The Bengals finally scored on the ensuing possession to pull within 15-7.
Cincinnati (12-5) then took the lead after AJ McCarron hit A.J. Green for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 1:50 left.
On the ensuing drive Burfict intercepted Jones' pass, intended for Markus Wheaton, giving the Bengals the ball back.
The Steelers had taken a 15-0 lead after Roethlisberger hit Martavis Bryant with a 10-yard touchdown pass with 5:02 left in the third quarter in the rain at Paul Brown Stadium.
Bryant, called out by Roethlisberger last week for lackluster play heading into the postseason, somehow secured the ball while somersaulting out of the end zone to cap an 82-yard drive
The Bengals are now left to ponder a first-round exit for the fifth straight year. No other NFL team has lost more than three consecutive opening-round games.