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Steelers outlast Ravens in crazy shootout to win AFC North Championship

It wasn’t pretty, or even close to good looking, but the Steelers beat the Ravens and win their second straight AFC North title.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

With heavy hearts, the Pittsburgh Steelers squared off against their AFC North rivals, the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14. There was plenty on the line for both teams entering the Sunday Night Football matchup. A Pittsburgh win would clinch a playoff berth via an AFC North title, while a Ravens win would keep them in the mix for a spot in the AFC Playoffs.

As Ryan Shazier was on every Steelers’ coach, player and fan’s mind before kickoff, the team was determined to honor Shazier the best way they knew how — beating the Ravens.

Ben Roethlisberger took over with prime field position, and after huge completions to Jesse James, it set up a nifty catch and run by Le’Veon Bell. The Chris Boswell point-after made the score 7-0, and delivered a huge dagger to the Ravens cashing in after the turnover.

The Ravens’ second drive of the game ended in a punt, and the Steelers continued to have their way with the Ravens’ defense. Le’Veon Bell and company marched down the field with ease with Bell punching it in from the 1-yard line to extend the Steelers’ lead. The Boswell point-after made the score 14-0 early in the 2nd quarter.

Baltimore wasn’t going to go down without a fight, and Flacco connected with Chris Moore on the next drive for a big 30-yard touchdown reception to move cut into Pittsburgh’s lead 14-7.

On their next drive, Pittsburgh moved the ball with ease, again, but once in Baltimore territory yards came at a premium. While Boswell had been only called on for point-after kicks to this point, Mike Tomlin put him on the field for a 52-yard field, which he nailed giving the Steelers a 17-7 lead.

Keith Butler’s defense continued to struggle tackling the ball carrier, and Baltimore marched down the field on their next possession, thanks largely to Alex Collins, before Collins had a nifty run for a touchdown. The Tucker point-after made the score 17-14. However, with just over a minute left and two timeouts, Roethlisberger moved the Steelers inside Boswell’s field goal range, and his kick sent both teams into halftime with the Steelers clinging to a 20-14 lead.

The home team received the football to start the third quarter, and during their first second half possession they did something they hadn’t yet — punt. Jordan Berry was called on for duty early in the third quarter, and Baltimore turned the possession into another Tucker field goal to make the score 20-17.

While the Steelers’ offense was struggling, the Ravens’ offense was heating up. Flacco continued making some quality throws, and Alex Collins just couldn’t be stopped. At the end of the drive, it was Javorious Allen plunging in for the touchdown, giving Baltimore their first lead of the game, 24-20.

Another three-and-out for Pittsburgh gave the ball right back to Flacco, and a 3-play, 74-yard drive equated in another touchdown to give Baltimore a 31-20 lead with 2:43 left in the third quarter.

With their backs against the wall, the Steelers finally put together a drive, but were stymied in the red-zone and had to settle for another Boswell field goal, narrowing the lead 31-23 with just over 10-minutes left in the game. After a three-and-out by Baltimore, Pittsburgh turned to Antonio Brown for a big play. The Roethlisberger pass to Brown moved the Steelers to the 10-yard line, and a Roosevelt Nix touchdown put Pittsburgh a two-point conversion away from tying the game.

After a defensive pass interference call on the first attempt, Le’Veon Bell was stopped short, and the 31-29 score stood with 9-minutes left in regulation.

Needing a response, Baltimore did just that as it took them just 5-plays, mainly aided by several questionable penalties against Pittsburgh, to drive the length of the field and put more points on the board. Allen scored his second touchdown of the game to extend the Ravens’ lead to 9-points, 38-29.

The Steelers’ utilized their super stars to put another touchdown on the board with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell carrying the load, and Bell carrying the team into the endzone to make the score 38-36 with 3:29 left in the game.

Another three-and-out for Baltimore gave Pittsburgh the ball back with just over 2-minutes left in the game, needing just field goal to win the game. On a huge 3rd and 2 play, Roethlisberger his Brown for 42-yards, and moved the team near Chris Boswell’s field goal range. Boswell nailed a 47-yard field goal with 40-seconds left to give the home team a 1-point lead, 39-38.

With one timeout left and 40-seconds to get into field goal range, but Flacco was not able to make enough plays and Pittsburgh wins a crazy game.

The Steelers win moves their record to 11-2 as they prepare for the much-anticipated game against the New England Patriots in Week 15 at Heinz Field. Stay tuned to BTSC for all the latest leading up to the huge AFC showdown.