The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens epitomize an NFL rivalry, and the two franchises went head-to-head in Week 18 of the regular season with their playoff hopes hanging by a thread. The Steelers entered the game with the same scenario as has been discussed all week. Win the game, and hope the Jacksonville Jaguars can somehow upset the Indianapolis Colts and they’re in the postseason.
This game had more to it than just playoff hopes, especially for the Steelers. This game was Ben Roethlisberger’s final regular season game of his career, and T.J. Watt was hoping to set a new single-season sack record with just two sacks of Tyler Huntley.
After losing the coin toss, the Ravens chose to defer their possession to the second half. Ben Roethlisberger and company took over with good field position after a nice return by Ray-Ray McCloud, but weren’t able to do anything with the field position after a three-and-out.
Baltimore’s first possession showed promise, but a botched snap by Huntley resulted in a fumble recovery by the Steelers. What looked like T.J. Watt’s record-tying play was ruled a run, and didn’t have him tie Michael Strahan on that play. Nonetheless, the offense turned the takeaway into a Chris Boswell field goal to give the Steelers a 3-0 lead with 6:06 left in the first quarter.
Huntley’s next possession ended the same way his first possession did, with a turnover. This time it was an interception by Terrell Edmunds for the Steelers’ second takeaway of the game. However, unlike the first takeaway, the Steelers gave the ball right back when Ben Roethlisberger’s pass intended for Ray-Ray McCloud was intercepted by Geno Stone.
Baltimore possessed the ball to start the second quarter, but when Huntley was stopped on a draw near midfield the Ravens decided to run a fake punt which didn’t work. The turnover on downs gave the Steelers tremendous field position.
A three-and-out gave the ball right back to the Ravens, but the offensive ineptitude continued with the Ravens failing to muster a first down either.
The offensive ineptitude for both teams was evident throughout the quarter as neither team could muster anything even resembling a drive resulting in points. However, the next offense to strike was Baltimore. Huntley used his legs, not his arm, to get the Ravens into a first-and-goal situation, but the end result was a Justin Tucker field goal to make the score 3-3 with just 11 seconds left in the half. The score would hold heading into halftime.
The Baltimore Ravens received the football to start the second half, and they came out of halftime looking like an inspired football team. A Tyler Huntley converted a key third down, and it was Latavius Murray with a 46-yard touchdown run up the gut for the first touchdown of the game. After Boswell’s extra point, the Ravens led the game 10-3.
Pittsburgh put together their best drive of the game with a good mixture of run and pass with Ben Roethlisberger targeting Diontae Johnson to get the ball into the red-zone. However, on a 3rd and 1 Snell was stopped short and Mike Tomlin elected for another Chris Boswell field goal to make the score 10-6 with 7:41 remaining in the third quarter.
Baltimore’s offense looked to add to their point total on the next drive, and some big runs by Murray set the Ravens up in the red-zone. However, Huntley’s pass intended for Mark Andrews was intercepted by Cam Sutton in the end zone. With a chance to respond, Pittsburgh’s offense showed some life with a nice run by Chase Claypool and what looked to be a huge conversion to Benny Snell, but the play was called back due to a Joe Haeg facemask penalty. It killed the drive and resulted in yet another Pressley Harvin punt.
After a Ravens three-and-out, Ray-Ray McCloud set up the offense at the 50-yard line for their next drive. Chase Claypool moved the offense down the field with both receptions and runs, and it was Claypool who capped off the drive with a touchdown reception. The Boswell extra point was good, making the score 13-10 with 2:54 left in the fourth quarter.
With the Jaguars dominating the Colts, the playoffs were on the line for the Steelers’ defense. Huntley found Mark Andrews with ease to move the Ravens into field goal range, and it was Justin Tucker nailing a 46-yard field goal to tie the game 13-13 with 1:13 left in regulation.
The Steelers got the ball back with one timeout remaining, and the possession starting at the 25-yard line after the touchback. The drive stalled near midfield, and Harvin punted the ball back to the Ravens with 38 seconds left, and two timeouts remaining. The Ravens were unable to put points on the board, and the game headed to overtime.
Baltimore won the coin toss, and elected to take the football. Latavius Murray moved the ball near midfield, but the Pittsburgh defense stiffened and forced a punt. Needing just a field goal to win the game, and punch their ticket to the playoffs, huge third down completions to Pat Friermuth and Diontae Johnson had the offense nearing Boswell’s field goal range. On 3rd and 8, Johnson dropped a pass to set up a 4th and 8. Mike Tomlin elected to go for it with 2:28 remaining in overtime, and the pass was completed to Ray-Ray McCloud for the first down.
After a Najee Harris 14-yard run, Chris Boswell nailed the game winner for the 16-13 win, and sending the Steelers to the playoffs. The win finished the regular season 9-7-1 and now prepare for the Wild Card round of the AFC Playoffs.