The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens went head-to-head in Week 16 at Heinz Field for all the marbles. If Pittsburgh won, they would win the AFC North and secure the 3-seed in the AFC Playoffs. If Baltimore was victorious, they would control their own destiny in Week 17, winning the division if they beat the Cincinnati Bengals.
It was a big game. Christmas Day. Prime time. Color rush uniforms. And the Steelers came out smoking. After the Pittsburgh defense held the Ravens on the opening drive, Pittsburgh took the football and drove 87-yards, taking over 8 minutes off the clock, when Ben Roethlisberger hit Xavier Grimble for a touchdown pass, and an early 7-0 Steelers lead.
The Ravens answered with a Justin Tucker field goal, and there would be no more scoring in the first half until Tucker kicked another field goal with 18 seconds left in the half to make the score 7-6 heading into the break.
In the first half, Roethlisberger attempted just 9 passes, and the Ravens had a muffed hold on a field goal, taking a potential three points off the board. Nonetheless, the Steelers received the football to start the third quarter, and Roethlisberger threw an interception to Zach Orr on the first play from scrimmage. A few plays later Joe Flacco his Steve Smith Sr. for the go-ahead touchdown. The tandem hooked up again on a two-point conversion to give the Ravens a 14-7 lead.
On Pittsburgh’s next possession, Roethlisberger had a big gain to Eli Rogers to put the offense in the Baltimore red-zone, but the team would settle for a Chris Boswell field goal to cut into the lead 14-10. However, Baltimore was able to answer with another field goal of their own to get back to the touchdown lead they had early in the third quarter.
The Steelers’ next possession saw another Ben Roethlisberger interception, his second of the game, but Pittsburgh’s defense was able to hold Baltimore to another Justin Tucker field goal, keeping the score 20-10 with 14 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
When things couldn’t look worse, after a big play to tight end Jesse James, Roethlisberger took a shot down the field to rookie Demarcus Ayers down the sideline, which drew a defensive pass interference call, moving Pittsburgh into the Baltimore red-zone. Two plays later Le’Veon Bell had his first touchdown of the game, and the Boswell point after made it a field goal game with 11:41 left in regulation.
After the Steelers defense forced a Baltimore three-and-out Ben Roethlisberger and company went back to work, and in a big way. Huge runs by Le’Veon Bell, completions to Antonio Brown and finally a catch by Bell who was helped into the endzone for his second touchdown of the game, and gave the Steelers the lead for the first time since early in the 3rd quarter, 24-20.
With 7:10 left in the fourth quarter, Joe Flacco as able to move the ball into the Pittsburgh red-zone with several key third down conversions. On 3rd and 1 from the Steelers 11-yard line, Kyle Juszczyk was able to score a touchdown with 1:18 left in the game.
Ben Roethlisberger took the Steelers, with two timeouts remaining, and methodically moved them down the field and he hit Antonio Brown for a go-ahead touchdown with just 9-seconds remaining in the game. The win was Pittsburgh’s 6th in a row, moves their record to 10-5, gives them the AFC North division title, and the No. 3 seed in the AFC Playoffs. They will play in a meaningless game against the Cleveland Browns in Week 17 where they could rest players like Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and others if they choose to do so.