The Pittsburgh Steelers struggled to find offense for most of the game, but the team’s biggest playmakers emerged in the fourth quarter to lock up the AFC North and eliminate the Baltimore Ravens with a 31-27 victory over their division rival on Christmas.
Ben Roethlisberger struggled for much of the game — throwing two interceptions deep in Baltimore territory — but came to life late, leading the Steelers down the field for three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to erase a 20-10 deficit, and a 27-24 deficit, in the final minutes.
With just 1:25 left in regulation, the Ravens responded to back-to-back touchdowns by the Steelers with a 14-play, 75-yard touchdown of their own to take back the lead, punctuated by an impressive touchdown by fullback Kyle Juszczyk.
But Roethlisberger saved Pittsburgh’s season, and locked up a playoff berth, by leading the Steelers down the field on 10-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 4-yard touchdown pass to his No. 1 receiver, Antonio Brown, who fought off Ravens defenders to reach the ball across the goal line.
For most of the game, the real star for the Steelers was Le’Veon Bell. The running back has been on a hot streak during the latter half of the season and continued that with 122 rushing yards on 20 carries, in addition to 15 receiving yards. It was Bell who found the end zone twice in the fourth quarter to bring the Steelers back from a double-digit deficit, ending a long lull by the Pittsburgh offense.
Early in the game, the Steelers offense looked like it was going to be firing on all cylinders. On the opening drive, Pittsburgh leaned heavily on Bell before Roethlisberger connected with Xavier Grimble for a 20-yard touchdown to gave the Steelers an early 7-0 lead.
But the Steelers wouldn’t score again in the first half and settled for a 36-yard field goal at the end of the third quarter. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Pittsburgh finally hit another gear by leaning on its best playmakers.
On the six-play, 90-yard drive that finally gave the Steelers back the lead, Bell picked up 36 rushing yards on two carries, then Roethlisberger connected with Antonio Brown twice for 47 yards, and Bell finished the drive with a 7-yard touchdown reception.
With the win, the Steelers are 10-5 and in line for the No. 3 seed, which can be secured with a victory over the Cleveland Browns in Week 17.