The AFC wild-card playoff games have gone to the wild-card teams. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs earned road victories on Saturday after entering the post-season as the two non-division winners in the conference playoffs.
The Steelers' win was bizarre as they blew a 15-point, fourth-quarter lead before Chris Boswell hit a 35-yard field goal with 14 seconds left to give Pittsburgh an 18-16 triumph over the Bengals in Cincinnati. Boswell's game-winning kick was set up by a fumble, the return of Ben Roethlisberger and a pair of undisciplined penalties by the Bengals.
Cincinnati seemed to be in position for its first post-season win in 25 years until Jeremy Hill's fumble gave Pittsburgh one last shot with 83 seconds left. Roethlisberger followed with five completions that put Pittsburgh at the Cincinnati 47 before Vontaze Burfict was called for unnecessary roughness and Adam Jones was flagged for unnecessary roughness following the same play. The two penalties moved the ball 30 yards to the Cincinnati 17 before Boswell hit his fourth field goal of the night.
The flags ruined what was a remarkable comeback by the Bengals after Roethlisberger had to leave the game with a right shoulder injury. Hill got Cincinnati on the board with a one-yard scoring run, Mike Nugent hit a 36-yard field goal and AJ McCarron threw a 25-yard TD pass to A.J. Green. The Bengals appeared to ice the victory when Burfict intercepted Steelers backup QB Landry Jones with 1:36 left, but Hill gave the ball back to Pittsburgh on the next play.
Next up for the Steelers are the Broncos in Denver next Sunday.
The Kansas City Chiefs have advanced to the AFC divisional playoffs for the first time in 21 years.
The Chiefs did it with great defence and special teams in a 30-0 rout of the Texans in Houston. Knile Davis put Kansas City ahead just 11 seconds into the game by returning the opening kickoff 106 yards. It was the second-longest kickoff return TD in post-season history.
The Chiefs made life miserable for Brian Hoyer, who fumbled once and threw three of his career-high four interceptions before halftime.
But the Chiefs led just 13-0 until Alex Smith hit Chris Conley for a nine-yard touchdown late in the third quarter. Smith was 17 of 22 for 190 yards and one interception.
Spencer Ware had 67 yards on 16 carries, including a five-yard score in the fourth quarter.
The Texans managed just 226 total yards in the first home playoff loss in team history.
Kansas City now prepares for their game against the Patriots at New England next.---
Adam Gase has become the Miami Dolphins' ninth head coach since 2004.
Gase was hired on Saturday as the Dolphins look to end a seven-year playoff drought. He also interviewed with the Eagles, Browns and Giants, but the Dolphins rushed to seal a deal and become the first team to fill their coaching vacancy. He takes over a team that went 6-10 this season and has won more than nine games just once since a 10-6 campaign in 2003.
Gase at 37 becomes the league's youngest coach. He spent this season as the Chicago Bears' offensive co-ordinator after serving in the same capacity with Denver.
Gase helped the Broncos reach Super Bowl 48 two years ago.
Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin is just one goal away from becoming the 43rd player in NHL history to score 500 for his career.
Ovechkin tallied twice Saturday afternoon, including the game-winner 85 seconds into overtime to give the Capitals a 4-3 win over the Rangers in New York. The game-winner came seconds after Caps netminder Braden Holtby made a spectacular toe save to rob Derek Stepan.
Ovechkin could get his milestone goal as early as Sunday against Ottawa, his 801st NHL game. Should he do it against the Senators, he will become the fifth-fastest player in league history to score 500.
Elsewhere on NHL ice:
- The Western Conference-leading Stars lost for the fourth time in five games as Ryan Carter and Thomas Vanek scored second-period goals to send Minnesota to a 2-1 victory at Dallas. Devan Dubnyk stopped 34 shots and blanked the Stars until Jamie Benn's power-play goal with 3:13 to play.
- Steve Mason picked up his third shutout of the season and 29th of his career by stopping just 20 shots in Philadelphia's 4-0 win over the lethargic Islanders. Matt Read had a goal and two assists as the Flyers won their third straight and dealt the Isles their second consecutive loss.
- Marc-Andre Fleury turned back 32 shots and Bryan Rust snapped a 1-1 tie with his first goal of the season in the second period of Pittsburgh's 3-2 verdict over Montreal. The Canadiens are 4-13-0 in their last 17 games.
- Mark Stone scored 4:22 into overtime to push Ottawa past Boston 2-1. Mika Zibanejad also scored and Erik Karlsson had two assists in the Senators' second victory in six games.
- Tomas Hertl scored twice and had an assist in San Jose's 7-0 pounding of the Maple Leafs in Toronto. Martin Jones handled 28 shots in his fourth shutout of the season and 11th of his career.
- Carolina coughed up a 3-0 lead before beating Columbus 4-3 on Jordan Staal's goal 2:45 into overtime. Andrej Nestrasil and Kris Versteeg also scored for the Hurricanes.
- Rookie Louis Domingue picked up his second shutout of the season by stopping 26 shots in Arizona's 4-0 win over Nashville. Antoine Vermette scored the game-winning and Tobias Rieber added a pair of third-period goals to secure the Coyotes' third straight win.(Associated Press)