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Choosing the Steelers best game of 2021: Two victories over Baltimore

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

NFL: JAN 09 Steelers at Ravens Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 offseason is rolling into the last week before the dog days of summer kick in. With players taking the practice field fresh on our mind and the anticipation towards the fall continues to grow, there have been several moments from the 2021 season which has fallen out of some of our memories. But if we were to look back at the Steelers season, the final one for future-Hall-of-Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, what was the best game for the Steelers?

Rather than simply answer the question, we have plenty of time to come to this decision. Instead of throwing out all the nominees and leave one big poll, these games are going to face off in a bracket-style contests to see which one BTSC chooses as the best Steelers game of 2021.

First, I’m specifically using the term best and not defining it in any way for the benefit of everyone involved. Perhaps what is the best for one doesn’t need to be what the best is for another. Maybe one game someone attended in person and appreciates it even more while another game saw a specific great play from a favorite player. Maybe one fan enjoys games that come down to the wire and the Steelers pull it off, while others feel much better when the Steelers have a little bit more of a cushion. Exactly what you feel is best is completely up to you.

To set up how this will work, we are only going to include Steelers victories from the 2021 season. Can we really say that their best game came in a loss or a tie? Rather than waste our time throwing those into the mix, we’re going to stick with the nine wins from the Steelers 2021 campaign.

But with nine games comes an uneven bracket. For this reason, there was one play-in game, featured yesterday, in order to get down to eight contests and a nice even bracket. I seeded the games without putting much thought into it simply to give matchups. I also tweaked a couple things to give a more intriguing face off between games, but not enough to make it overwhelmingly different.

Continuing on, BTSC will be deciding a winner to move on each day for the next week until the best game is determined. Make sure you vote in the poll at the bottom of the article to help determine which game moves on to the next round.

The next matchup features the both games which lead to a Steelers sweep of the division rival Baltimore Ravens: Week 13 at Heinz Field and Week 18 in Baltimore.


Week 13 vs. the Baltimore Ravens: 20-19

Recap:

Coming in with their biggest underdog deficit at Heinz field in 2021, the Ravens were favored by 4.5 points in the first matchup in December. After the Ravens ate up 6.5 minutes of clock on the opening drive, they faced a third and sixth at the Steelers 10-yard line when T.J. Watt put Lamar Jackson under so much distress he threw an interception to Minkah Fitzpatrick in the end zone.

The next three drives, two by the Steelers and one by the Ravens, saw three and outs. On the second of said drives by the Steelers, Pressley Harvin had a 64-yard punt that went out of bounds at the 1 yard line. But pinning them deep meant very little as the Ravens took more than a 10-minute drive which went into the second quarter and spanned 99 yards to get the game’s first touchdown. The Ravens were aided on the drive by a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on T.J. Watt.

The Steelers responded by finally getting their first first down of the game almost halfway through the second quarter. But all it did was extend the drive by one play as they were forced yet again to punt. The Steelers defense stepped up the next drive which, although lasting more than four minutes, ended in a punt after Cam Heyward came up with a key third-down sack. The Steelers started their last drive of the half at their own 13-yard line but managed to get Chris Boswell into a position for a long field goal. Boswell connected from 53-yards out and the first half came to a conclusion with a score of 7-3.

The Steelers began the second half with possession and when a 32-yard pass to Ray-Ray McCloud, which would have moved the Steelers across midfield, was challenged and overturned, the Steelers were held on third and long. They also lost additional yards when the third down pass which rolled into the secondary was picked up by a Baltimore defender as if he had an interception. The NFL once again showed why letting plays go without a whistle is a bad philosophy when the play obviously is over, and Kendrick Green was flagged for a facemask on a tackle which never should have taken place had the officials done their job. Punting from their own 11-yard line, the Ravens took good field position and converted it into a 35 yard field goal by Justin Tucker to take a 10-3 lead.

After exchanging punts, the Steelers had possession at their own 31 to begin the fourth quarter still trailing 10-3. After a Najee Harris run for no gain, Roethlisberger connected with Chase Claypool for a 40-yard gain and then a 29-yard touchdown to Diontae Johnson on back-to-back plays. Missing the extra point, the Steelers still trailed 10–9 with just over 14 minutes remaining in the game.

The next Ravens drive only saw one first down, but it was on a 41-yard pass interference call against Minkah Fitzpatrick. The Ravens could only manage seven more yards after the penalty and settled for a 28-yard Justin Tucker field goal to push their lead to 13–9.

The Steelers answered with a 4:28 drive which they moved the ball 50 yards for a Chris Boswell 43-yard field goal to cut the Ravens lead back to one point. The Ravens next drive saw an incompletion, a 5-yards sack by T.J. Watt, and another incompletion before punting the ball back to the Steelers with 6:21 remaining.

The Steelers moved the ball 69 yards and converted On three third downs, the last of which was a 5-yard touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson. With the game a five point deficit, Steelers went for the two-point conversion and Ben Roethlisberger completed the throw to Pat Freiermuth.

With 1:48 left in the game, Chris Boswell‘s kickoff, instead of bouncing into the end zone, took a backwards hop and went out of bounds giving the Ravens the ball at their 40-yard line. After a short pass for five yards followed by a false start by the Ravens, they faced second and 10 at their 40-yard line when T.J. Watt, despite being held and having the penalty thrown, had a sack and forced fumble of Lamar Jackson. But the ball skipped out of bounds before the Steelers could recover. Declining the penalty, the Ravens converted the third and 14 for 22 yards and quickly moved inside the Steelers red zone two plays later. On a third and five from the Steeler 6-yard line, Lamar Jackson found Sammy Watkins for the 6-yard touchdown with 0:12 remaining on the clock.

Rather than play for overtime, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh opted for the two-point conversion attempt to go for the win. Running a well-designed play in which T.J. Watt had to choose to go after the quarterback or follow the tight end, Watt opted to chase down Lamar Jackson and disrupted the play enough to where the throw went just out of reach of the Ravens tight end.

To finish off the game, Tre Norwood recovered the Ravens onside kick and the Steelers offense came onto the field for one last play in victory formation.

Highlights:

View highlights of the Week 13 victory over the Ravens 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 second-round matchup to determine the Steelers best game of the 2021 season. 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

  • 35%
    Week 13 vs. Baltimore (20-19)
    (142 votes)
  • 64%
    Week 18 at Baltimore (16-13 in OT)
    (261 votes)
403 votes total Vote Now