American Football: Steelers upset Colts to close on Super Bowl

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The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Carolina Panthers both moved to within sight of a Super Bowl appearance following impressive victories away from home on Sunday night. The Steelers upset the heavily favoured Indianapolis Colts 21-18, in one of the strangest finishes seen in recent years, while the Carolina Panthers held off the Chicago Bears, the receiver Steve Smith catching two touchdowns in his side's 29-21 triumph.

In Indianapolis the Colts were expected to prevail against the unfancied Steelers. However, the visitors jumped to an early 14-0 lead, the quarterback Ben Roethlisberger firing touchdowns to Antwaan Randle El and Heath Miller. When the veteran running back Jerome Bettis made it 21-3 late in the third quarter the game seemed to be over. However, the Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning rallied his side to within three, to set up an extraordinary finish.

With only a minute left, Bettis fumbled at the goal line, the Colts recovering to put themselves in position for a game-tying field goal. However, their veteran kicker, Mike Vanderjagt, missed a 46-yard effort and the Colts' season was over.

Pittsburgh will now travel to the Denver Broncos on Sunday for the right to appear in Super Bowl XL. In the other game the Seattle Seahawks will entertain the Carolina Panthers.

National Football League Play-offs: Carolina 29 Chicago 21, Pittsburgh 21 Indianapolis 18.