The Pittsburgh Steelers entered Week 17 not just facing the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football, but also the fact their playoff hopes hung in the balance. Needing help to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Steelers had good fortune on their side with the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets both losing earlier in the day. This mean if the Steelers could beat the Ravens, their playoff hopes would remain alive for another week.
But beating the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium is anything but easy.
After losing the opening coin toss, the Steelers offense was the first on the field, and Kenny Pickett and company did what they have done often throughout the regular season. That being having a time-consuming drive which resulted in points. However, just like has been the case far too often this year, following a Jaylen Warren end around run got the team to the 12-yard line, the Steelers failed to convert the possession into a touchdown.
Once facing a 1st-and-goal situation, Pat Freiermuth was flagged for a false start, and the drive was never able to get back on track. It ended in a 21-yard Chris Boswell chip shot to give the Steelers an early 3-0 lead with 7:01 left in the first quarter.
The Ravens’ offense took over, and they did their best impersonation of the Steelers’ opening drive. At the end of the first quarter, it was a similar time-consuming drive which had the Ravens in the red-zone. Facing a 3rd and 5 to start the second quarter, the pass in the end-zone fell incomplete and brought on Justin Tucker for a 30-yard field goal. The kick was good, making the score 3-3 with 14:09 left in the half.
The Steelers’ second drive wasn’t as successful as their first, and when it looked like Pickett was able to find George Pickens along the sideline for the first down, Pickens was flagged for illegal touching which negated the play. It resulted in Pressley Harvin’s first punt of the game, where he pinned the Ravens’ offense inside their own 10-yard line.
After Baltimore failed to gain a first down, the Steelers moved the ball into field goal range with key third down conversions and solid play on the ground. When a pass intended for Pat Freiermuth fell incomplete, it set up a 48-yard Chris Boswell field goal. The kick hit off the upright and was no good, giving the Ravens good field position with 3:30 left in the second quarter.
Baltimore moved the ball with ease on the ground, mainly on the running of J.K. Dobbins. Dobbins was able to break off several 10+ yard runs on the drive which would last until the end of the half. It looked as if the Steelers had held the Ravens to a field goal opportunity, but a personal foul call on Cam Heyward gave the Ravens new life. The next play was a touchdown pass from Huntley to Isaiah Likely to give the Ravens a 10-3 lead heading into halftime.
The Ravens received the football to start the third quarter, and while they weren’t able to score a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half, they were able to add to their point total. Doing damage primarily with passes to Mark Andrews, the Ravens got into Justin Tucker’s field goal range and he nailed the 51-yard kick to make the score 13-3 with 9:31 left in the third quarter.
Desperately needing an answer, the Steelers offense took the field in what felt like forever. After a couple conversions, the Steelers faced a 3rd and 17, and it was the Pickett to Pickens connection which moved the chains.
While the conversion moved the ball into field goal range, that’s where the drive ended as Chris Boswell made a 51-yard field goal to make the score 13-6 with 3:42 left in the third quarter.
Following a rare Ravens punt, and a holding penalty during the punt, the Steelers were backed up at their own 5-yard line to start the ensuing drive. Pittsburgh didn’t just get out of their own end, but how they did it was notable. Najee Harris was breaking off 10+ yard runs on his way to a 100 yard game. But key third down conversions to George Pickens and Diontae Johnson got the ball into the red-zone.
However, the drive ended the way so many had this season, and with a field goal. Chris Boswell nailed the 33-yard kick, making the score 13-9 with 9:44 left in the fourth quarter.
Boswell’s ensuing kickoff was kicked short, and Justice Hill returned the kick into Pittsburgh territory. However, when it looked like just a few yards would get Baltimore in Tucker’s range, they moved the wrong way and had to punt the ball back to Pittsburgh with 8:41 left in regulation.
Pittsburgh was unable to do anything with their next possession, and Harvin was called on to send the ball back to Baltimore with 6:35 left in the quarter. A three-and-out by the Ravens’ offense gave the ball back to the Steelers offense at their own 20 with 4:16 left and all three timeouts remaining.
For the second straight week, Kenny Pickett saved his best for last. After some huge runs got the drive started, it was Pickett completing huge passes to Pat Freiermuth, Diontae Johnson and capped off with a touchdown pass to Najee Harris for the go-ahead score.
Chris Boswell’s extra point was good, making the score 16-13 with just 56 seconds left in the game.
The Ravens were out of timeouts, and Tyler Huntley was unable to get the team into Tucker’s field goal range, as Huntley’s pass was intercepted by Minkah Fitzpatrick to ice the win.
The dramatic win moved the Steelers record to 8-8, and keeps their playoff hopes alive for another week. The Steelers now prepare for another must-win game at home vs. the Cleveland Browns, and the necessary help, to possibly get into the playoffs. In the meantime, stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for Week 18 of the regular season.