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Choosing the Steelers best game of 2021: The winner

It’s the end of a bracket-style showdown to decide which game from the 2021 season was the best performance by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

NFL: JAN 03 Browns at Steelers Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

And the final matchup is here! After voting on the best Steelers game of the 2021 season, BTSC has spoken in the matchups between two games actually played in 2022.

Before getting to the showdown, there were some interesting trends which arose. The play-in game between the #8 and #9 seed, it was no surprise fans were not enthusiastic about either choice. The ultimate winner, the game against the Seattle Seahawks, did come through, although many fans did not want to vote for a game which took overtime to beat a backup quarterback of a team that finished last place in their division.

In the next round, fans chose to vote through a game which took overtime to beat a backup quarterback of a team that finished last place in their division. But apparently being a divisional matchup means a lot, and despite the Steelers playing much better against the 8-3 Ravens who had Lamar Jackson when they took on the Steelers in Week 13, they believed the team on a five-game losing streak with their backup quarterback was actually the better performance in Week 18.

The other three games to advance to the semifinals were no surprise as they were the two victories the Steelers had over playoff teams in the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans, along with Ben Roethlisberger‘s final game at Heinz field where the Steelers took down their division rival Cleveland Browns.

In the matchups to go to the finals, fans in both polls chose divisional wins against teams who finished with losing records over victories against teams who made the postseason. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, ultimately how the Steelers played in the game is what it’s all about.

The final matchup sees the final two games of the 2021 NFL regular season. In Week 17, the Steelers kept their playoff hopes alive in a game in which the loser would be eliminated from postseason contention. In a game the Steelers never trailed, it was a fitting home sendoff for Ben Roethlisberger. In Week 18, the Steelers traveled to Baltimore to take on their reserve quarterback as the Ravens had dropped five-straight games and were eliminated from postseason contention. Attempting to play the spoiler, the Ravens pushed the Steelers to overtime until one great field goal drive to finish the game gave Ben Roethlisberger his final victory.


Week 17 vs. the Cleveland Browns: 26-14

Recap:

The Pittsburgh Steelers came into their final game at Heinz Field of the 2021 season with a record of 7-7-1 for a Monday night matchup against the 7-8 Cleveland Browns. Not only would the loser be eliminated from playoff contention, it was Ben Roethlisberger‘s final home game of his illustrious Steelers career.

After the first three drives of the game, two by the Steelers and one by the Browns, did not cross midfield, Cleveland moved into Pittsburgh territory on the first play of their second drive after a 32-yard Nick Chubb run. But on fourth and seven from the Steelers 38, Cam Heyward knocked down Baker Mayfield‘s pass and Steelers took over on downs. Moving in the Cleveland territory and just out of Chris Boswell field goal range, the Steelers attempted a fourth and five from the Cleveland 36 with less than a minute to go on the quarter but the pass feel incomplete.

The first play of the second quarter saw a Cleveland punt as T.J. Watt finished the first stanza with one of his four sacks on the night. The Steelers next drive, aided by a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty when Jadeveon Clowney threw Chase Claypool’s shoe, was finished off with a 5-yard touchdown to Diontae Johnson and the Steelers took a 7-0 lead.

After trading three and outs, the Browns took over possession at their own 26-yard line only for the first play the drive to see an Ahkello Witherspoon interception of Baker Mayfield. Taking over at the Cleveland 43, the Steelers possessed the ball nearly four minutes but came up short once getting inside the 5-yard line and settled for 22-yard Chris Boswell field goal to push their lead to 10-0.

Cleveland moved the ball down the field on their next position only to be pushed out of field-goal range on another third down sack by T.J. Watt. Taking over at their own 19-yard line with 0:34 left in the half, the Steelers attempted to move the ball into field goal range but the half ended with a Ben Roethlisberger interception.

The second half began with another Browns three and out with a third-down sack of Baker Mayfield, this time by Cameron Heyward. The Steelers saw a 30-yard run by Najee Harris move the ball across midfield but the Steelers once again had to settle for a field goal in the red zone when Chris Boswell connected from 30 yards out and pushed the lead to 13-0.

When the Browns next position once again came up short on a third-down sack by T.J. Watt, the Steelers took over at their own 5-yard line. Getting a little bit of wiggle room with rushes of three and four yards by Najee Harris, Ben Roethlisberger was sacked in his own 4-yard line and Corliss Waitman’s 53-yard punt was returned 9 yards giving the Browns possession in Steelers territory. After a 39-yard completion on the first play of the drive, the Browns finished it off with a Baker Mayfield pass to David Njoku to cut the lead to 13-7.

After a second straight three and out by the Steelers, the final play of the third-quarter was much like that of the first quarter with Baker Mayfield being sacked, this time by Alex Highsmith. After getting one first down, the Browns saw a 21-yard punt out of bounds and the Steelers took over at their own 43-yard line. Moving the ball into Cleveland territory, Chris Boswell connected for a 50-yard field goal to push the Steelers lead to 16-7 with less than 10 minutes to play.

After taking over on their own 25-yard line on the ensuing kickoff, the Browns lost 20 yards on the drive and were forced to kick from their own 5-yard line. With a 46-yard punt and a 14-yard return by Ray-Ray McCloud, the Steelers were set up at the Cleveland 37-yard line. After Najee Harris gave the Steelers seven yards in the first two rushing plays, the Steelers couldn’t convert on third down and settled for a 48-yard Chris Boswell field goal for a 19-7 lead with just under six minutes left.

After back-to-back sacks by T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, the Browns were faced with a fourth and 19 from their own 25 yard line but were bailed out on a pass interference call against Joe Haden. Getting the assistance of another pass interference call at the goal line, the Browns ultimately scored a 1-yard touchdown pass to Harrison Bryant with 1:10 left in the game pushing the score to 19-14.

After Minkah Fitzpatrick recovered the onside kick, the Steelers were looking to run the ball to run out the clock. After back-to-back 4-yard rushes by Najee Harris, his third and two attempt with one minute remaining in the game broke free of the line of scrimmage and Harris scampered to the end zone for a 37-yard touchdown pushing the score to 26–14. With 0:15 remaining in the game, a Baker Mayfield pass was intercepted by Tre Norwood, giving Ben Roethlisberger one last play in victory formation at Heinz Field in his final home game.

Highlights:

View highlights of the Week 17 victory over the Browns via the NFL YouTube channel HERE.


Week 18 vs. the Baltimore Ravens: 16-13 (OT)

Recap:

The Steelers entered the final week of the season coming off an emotional win in Ben Roethlisberger‘s last game at Heinz field the previous week. Going into Baltimore as 3.5-point underdogs despite Lamar Jackson not playing, the Steelers needed a victory and a lot of help in order to qualify for the 2021 postseason.

After the Ravens won the toss and deferred, the Steelers had their typical slow start and went three and out on their opening position. Only allowing one first down on defense, The Ravens faced a second and eight from their own 46-yard line when a bad snap was recovered by quarterback Tyler Huntley only for him to have the ball punched out by T.J. Watt and recovered by Henry Mondeaux.

Despite their great field position by starting at the ravens 39 yard line, the Steelers lined up to go for it on fourth and one at the Ravens 5-yard line only for Benny Snell to get caught leaning forward too soon and was called for a false start. The Steelers settled for 28-yard Chris Boswell field goal to open up the scoring.

The next two positions saw the teams trading interceptions with Terrell Edmunds picking off Tyler Huntley followed by Ben Roethlisberger being intercepted by Geno Stone.

On the first play of the second quarter, the Steelers held a scrambling Tyler Huntley to only two yards on a third and four and had apparently forced a Ravens punt from the Steelers 45-yard line. But to the surprise of few, the Ravens went for a fake and the pass fell incomplete and the Steelers took over with decent field position.

With Najee Harris leaving the game early in the first quarter with an injury, although he did return in the fourth quarter, the Steelers offense sputtered and squandered their opportunity with a three and out. The Ravens responded with their own drive which did not yield a first down and the two teams traded an additional five punts to take the clock down inside the two minute warning of the first half.

Set up with great field position when the Steelers failed to gain a yard on a drive that started at their own 7-yard line and managed a 33-yard punt out of bounds, the Ravens began almost in field goal range at their own 40 yard line. Within to plays Baltimore reached the Steelers red zone for the first time on the day but the defense held inside of their own 10-yard line and the Ravens settled for a 24-yard field goal to tie the score at 3-3 with just seconds left in the first half.

After being held in check the entire afternoon, the Ravens offense started the second half by extending the opening drive with a Tyler Huntley scramble on third and six. Failing to get the three and out, the Steelers gave up a 10-yard run to Latavius Murray followed by a 46-yard touchdown run on the next play to give Baltimore their first lead of the day at 10-3.

The Steelers responded and moved the ball to the edge of the Ravens red zone but settled for another Chris Boswell field goal to cut the lead to 10–6.

After the teams traded three and outs, the Ravens started their next drive at their own 25-yard line but quickly moved into Steelers territory with back-to-back runs of more than 20 yards by Latavius Murray.

The Ravens drive continued into the fourth quarter where they found themselves with a second and seven at the Steelers 12-yard line. But on the first pass attempt of the drive, Cam Sutton came up with the interception in the end zone to give the Steelers the ball at the 20-yard line.

After moving the ball across midfield, a personal foul penalty on Joe Haeg pushed the Steelers back into their own territory and they punted the ball yet again to the Ravens. Forcing another three and out, the Steelers got a 23-yard punt return from Ray-Ray McCloud to set them up at midfield with just over eight minutes left in the game.

Facing a thurd and nine on the ravens 39 yard line, Ben Roethlisberger connected with a 20-yard gain to Ray-Ray McCloud. Facing another third and six on the Ravens 15-yard line, Roethlisberger connected this time with Pat Freiermuth for 11 yards. With just under three minutes remaining in the game, the Steelers regained lead with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Chase Claypool, pushing the score to 13–10.

Getting a decent kick return to their own 32-yard line, the Ravens moved into long field goal range after a 21-yard scramble from Tyler Huntley. Gaining eight more yards over the next three plays to get a little closer, Justin Tucker tied the game at 13-13 with a 46-yard field goal with 1:17 remaining.

With the Jacksonville Jaguars coming through with the unthinkable and knocking out the Indianapolis Colts, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a much easier path to the postseason should they come through with a victory. But only moving the ball 19 yards, the Steelers opted not to go for it on fourth and one at their own 44-yard line and forced the Ravens to move the length of the field in less than 40 seconds. Converting only one play before three incompletions, the Ravens were forced to punt with seconds left in the game and the Steelers took a knee to send the contest to overtime.

Winning the coin toss again, the Ravens moved the ball close to midfield before the Steelers defense held firm and forced a punt which gave them the ball at their 17-yard line. Needing any type of score to end the game, the Steelers were faced with a third and seventh at their own 31 yard line when Ben Roethlisberger connected on a 14-yard pass to Pat Freiermuth. Facing another third and long, this time third and nine at their own 46, Roethlisberger connected with Diontae Johnson for 11 yards and moved the ball across midfield. After failing to convert on a third and eight at the Ravens 41-yard line, the Steelers opted to go for it on fourth down with 2:28 remaining in overtime and Ben Roethlisberger connected with Ray-Ray McCloud for a 10-yard gain.

Already in long field goal range, the Steelers got an extra 15 yards two plays later on a Najee Harris run taking the ball inside the red zone. After Ben Roethlisberger took a knee to position the ball in a better spot, Chris Boswell connected on the 36-yard field goal to win the game with 2:00 remaining in overtime.

View highlights of the Steelers Week 18 victory over the Ravens via the NFL YouTube channel HERE.


So there are the two games highlighted in this final matchup to determine the Steelers best game of the 2021 season. I highly encourage everyone to check out the highlights before casting your vote. Is there something else that stands out to you from either of these games? Make sure you leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Poll

Which game was the better Steelers game in 2021?

This poll is closed

  • 66%
    Week 17 vs Cleveland (26-14)
    (162 votes)
  • 33%
    Week 18 at Baltimore (16-13 in OT)
    (81 votes)
243 votes total Vote Now