Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays Steeler Nation! With a win over the rival Baltimore Ravens, the Pittsburgh Steelers improved their record to 10-5 and have clinched the #3 seed in the AFC. As usual, it was a hard fought battle with both sides poised to win at various points of the game. Pittsburgh showed their mettle with yet another impressive come from behind victory, scoring 21 points in the 4th quarter.
On defense, Pittsburgh played a decent game. Missed and shoddy tackling again reared its ugly head, allowing Ravens backs Kenneth Dixon and Terrance West to take over at times. Steve Smith Sr. was also able to take advantage of some mismatches on defense to put the Ravens up. Joe Flacco was sacked twice and pressured several other times, but was still able to complete 30 passes. Although not perfect, the Steelers defense was able to make a few stops throughout the game, which proved to be just enough to win the game.
Pittsburgh’s offense was definitely an improvement from the first meeting with Baltimore, with Le’Veon Bell gaining 90 more yards on the ground. One of the best parts of the offense however, was the impact made by the secondary receivers in the absence of Ladarius Green. Tight ends Xavier Grimble and Jesse James, as well as wide receiver Eli Rogers all made spectacular plays throughout the game. Rogers, in particular, made a spectacular 20- yard grab. Although Ben Roethlisberger continued his average season with a pair of interceptions stemming from both poor decisions and poor throws, he was able to come through down the stretch, leading the Steelers to a furious 21-point 4th quarter.
Speaking of the final quarter, Antonio Brown had a pretty good day, didn’t he? With 10 receptions for 96 yards, it was his final one that is most memorable. On 2nd and goal from the Ravens 4 with 13 seconds left, Brown caught 4 yard in route, just short of the goal line. With 3 Raven defenders around him, Brown was able to pump his feet and extend the ball out just enough to cross the plane, delivering the gift of a Pittsburgh victory and AFC North crown.
This was the biggest victory of the season for the Steelers. With the AFC North wrapped up and the #3 seed clinched, next week’s game against the Cleveland Browns is meaningless. It will be interesting to see whether or not Mike Tomlin decides to sit many players during next weeks game. Depending on how things turn out, the Steelers will be facing either the Miami Dolphins or the Kansas City Chiefs during Wild Card Weekend.