Baltimore Ravens

Big Ben and Steelers Redeem Themselves after Poor Early Play With Last Second Win

Yes, if you follow me @SportMongerPGH on Twitter you saw that I was rather hard on Ben’s performance for a good portion of the game.   Then, the fourth quarter happened and the Big Ben everyone wants to see showed up.   But he needed a big jumpstart by Le’Veon Bell before he could start finding open receivers.   Ben and the Steelers would come back from down 10 in the third quarter to beat the Ravens on a last minute drive.  The final score on a rowdy Christmas Day at Heinz Field, Steelers 31 Ravens 27.

After leading the Steelers down the field with a heavy running attack with Bell on the fist drive, the Steelers offense would get bogged down for about 2 quarters after that.  Pittsburgh would score on their first possession and not again till late in the third quarter. During that time, the defense had to come up big holding Flacco and the Ravens to just 2 field goals.

Then, on the first possession of the second half, down 1 the Ravens would pick Ben off and turn it into a touchdown.  That touchdown would give the Ravens a 14-7 lead.   After Pittsburgh would put together a field goal drive, the Ravens would get those points right back to extend the lead to 17-10.

On the next possession, the Ravens would intercept Ben yet again as he threw into triple coverage.   That interception would turn into yet another field goal as the defense would come up big when needed and keep them within 10.   It was at that point the Steelers went no huddle and the offense woke up.

After a couple big runs by Bell, Ben would take over and lead the Steelers down the field.  Bell would finish what he started with a 7 yard TD run to cut the Lead to 20-17.  After a defensive stop, Ben would once again respond in the fourth quarter.   He would keep moving with the no huddle and it would turn into yet another touchdown to Bell.   Bell would get into the endzone twice today.

The defense was then left on the field with about 6 minutes left and a 24-20 lead.   It was time for them to come up big once again.  But it would be Joe Flacco that would respond and lead his team down the field for a touchdown that would give the Ravens a 3 point lead with under a minute and a half left in the game.

That is when “The Cheerleader” challenged his guys and said (paraphrased) “you do this in practice all the time and I give you just one time out.  This time, you have a couple now go win the game.”   They utilized their time and a soft secondary to go down the field.   After driving 70 yards down the field, It would be a tremendous play on a second down inside the 10 with just :14 seconds left that would decide the game.  Ben would drop back and go over the middle, which could have ended their season if Brown did not get in.  But, in this instance, he would catch a pass just short of the goal line and with three defenders literally on him, he would extend the ball over the goal line clearly breaking the plain with just 9 second left.   That TD gave Pittsburgh a 3 point lead with the extra point coming up.

After two offside calls, the Steelers would convert an extra point and leave the Ravens in a tough situation.   They needed to score with 9 seconds left.  The final play would finish in an interception as time ran out.  The final score in what had to be one of the 5 most entertaining games every plain in Pittsburgh’s history, Steelers 31- Ravens 27.

Observations:

Kicker Boswell, who was the hero last week, nearly was the goat today as he had two angled kickoffs go out of bounds which gave the Ravens the short field in two big situations.  The Steelers would overcome those errors though.

The game was a 7-6 score at half, in the second half the teams would combine for 45 additional points.   It was that crazy second half that would decide the game.

Le’Veon Bell would rush the ball 20 times for 120 yards with a rushing and receiving Touchdown.  Over this winning streak, he has been the most consistent and most valuable player on the offense.   Antonio Brown had 4 receptions midway through the third quarter with 25 yards.  He would finish with 10 receptions and 96 yards.  He came up big when they needed him too.  Although, it would be a pass interference call on the first TD in the second half for the Steelers that would really be a difference maker.

Demarcus Ayers would finish the game with just 1 reception for 9 yards, but it would be that non catch that would be the biggest story as he would draw a pass interference call against a rookie corner back.   Ayers, also a rookie played well in the second half when called upon.

It would be Tight End Xavier Grimble that would catch a TD pass in the first quarter.  It does not matter who you are, if you get open Ben will call your name and Grimble was the guy today.

Eli Rodgers made a couple of really big catches in the second half.  He would finish with 4 receptions and 84 yards.

Defense:

The Steelers defense would do just enough to keep the offense in the game.   But it certainly did not look good with just over a minute to play when full back Kyle Juszczyk would break a couple tackles and rumble 10 yards up the middle into the end zone.   The Steelers were without Stephon Tuitt and of course Cameron Heyward (out for the season) so the Defensive Line struggled at times.   Dixon really started to have his way with the line in the second half, that is until he left the game with an injury.  Kenneth Dixon would finish with  57 yards on 12 carries, and many of those yards came with defenders on his back while he carried them for many additional yards.

I think the game could have been a bit different if he would have stayed in the game.  But, he did not stay in the game and it would finish as one of the best games in the series with the Steelers winning with just seconds left.

With the win, the Steelers claim the AFC North Championship and the Ravens are officially out.  Who the Steelers will play is still being determined.   Pittsburgh will finish the Season against the Browns next week.  Cleveland comes into the game on fire with a 1 game winning streak.  Okay, maybe not on fire, but the Browns got their first win of the season on Saturday.   This team has played hard all year, and were rewarded Saturday with a win.  Not sure what team we see next week but Pittsburgh needs to play well so that they can carry the momentum they have worked up into the Playoffs.

Pittsburgh has won 6 games in a row and won their 600th as a franchise to join just the Packers, Bears, and Giants with that same distinction.  Pretty impressive results I’d say.

Also worth Noting, the Uniforms the Steelers played in today were nice.  Enjoyed these much more than the Bee Uniforms.

Here is some audio of Mike Tomlin after the game.

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