The Bengals blew a chance to elbow their way into playoff position, letting a distracted and grieving team pull one out at the end.
Dan Bailey kicked a 40-yard field goal as time ran out, sending the Dallas Cowboys to a 20-19 victory on Sunday that ended the Bengals' four-game winning streak.
Cincinnati (7-6) could have moved ahead of Pittsburgh (7-6) in the chase for the second AFC wild card.
The Steelers lost at home to San Diego 34-24, giving Cincinnati an opening.
The Bengals wasted it by giving up two scoring drives in the closing minutes.
''Obviously, we would have loved to win today with them losing, and it would have given us a better chance,'' said quarterback Andy Dalton, who was 20 of 33 for 206 yards with a touchdown, an interception and five sacks.
The Bengals remain two games behind AFC North-leading Baltimore (9-4). They finish the season at Pittsburgh and home against the Ravens, so there's still a chance to make the playoffs for the second straight season.