(Reuters) - The Pittsburgh Steelers beat bitter rivals the Cincinnati Bengals in a bone-jarring, ill-tempered 18-16 last second victory in their AFC Wild Card playoff game on Saturday.
The contest seemed to be safely in the hands of the Bengals after roaring back from a 15-0 deficit with 16 fourth-quarter points and taking control of the ball with less than two minutes remaining after a Vontaze Burfict interception.
But as the Bengals endeavored to run the clock out, running back Jeremy Hill fumbled and the Steelers recovered deep in their own territory.
With quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returning after having left with a shoulder injury from a crunching sack, Pittsburgh marched down the field.
In the dying seconds, the Steelers benefited from a pair of personal foul calls, a ferocious late hit to the head by Burfict against receiver Antonio Brown and another 15-yard personal foul to cornerback Adam Jones gifted Pittsburgh with a game-winning, 35-yard field goal by Chris Boswell.
The wild card Steelers were the second visiting team to win on the opening day of the National Football League playoffs following a 30-0 rout by the Kansas City Chiefs over the Houston Texans that set the AFC match-ups for round two next weekend.
Pittsburgh, 10-6 in the regular season, will travel to Denver to play AFC West champion Broncos (12-4), while Kansas City (11-5) visit AFC East champions the New England Patriots (12-4).
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Steve Keating)