NFL

Ravens vs. Steelers: Pittsburgh stays alive in the playoff race thanks to Kenny Pickett’s late heroics

Ravens vs. Steelers: Pittsburgh stays alive in the playoff race thanks to Kenny Pickett’s late heroics

Ben Roethlisberger ended his 18-year career with the Steelers’ come-from-behind win over Baltimore. A year later, Roethlisberger’s successor, Kenny Pickett, led Pittsburgh to a dramatic last-minute victory in Baltimore that kept the Steelers’ playoff hopes alive.

A month after leaving the Steelers-Ravens opener early, Pickett’s touchdown pass to Najee Harris gave Pittsburgh a 16-13 win. The win keeps Pittsburgh (8-8) alive in the race for the AFC’s seventh straight playoff berth. The Steelers have won five of six games after a 3-7 start.

Trailing 13-3, Pickett helped lead two straight second-half drives that ended with Chris Boswell field goals. The Steelers defense forced a punt before seeing Pickett orchestrate an 80-yard game-winning drive that ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Harris with 56 seconds left.

Pickett’s 20-yard to Pat Freiermuth and 28-yard to Steven Sims set up his game-winning touchdown pass. Pittsburgh’s defense then finished the job when Minkah Fitzpatrick intercepted Tyler Huntley with 13 seconds left.

Pickett was aided throughout the night by Harris, who recorded his first 100-yard rush of the season. The Ravens offense was led by Mark Andrews, whose 100 yards on nine catches wasn’t enough on a night when points were high. The loss dropped Baltimore to 10-6 and 1.5 games behind Cincinnati for first place in the AFC North.

Here are the full details of what happened on Sunday night.

Why the Steelers won

Pittsburgh overcame several self-inflicted injuries, including Boswell’s missed first-half field goal and Cam Heyward’s unnecessary roughness penalty that led to the Ravens’ only touchdown before halftime. Both players made up for those mistakes in the second half. Boswell made his second-half field goal attempt, and Heyward was part of a big third-down stop that set up Pittsburgh’s game-winning drive.

The Steelers defense made several other big stops throughout the game. And while they struggled in the red zone for most of the game, Pittsburgh’s offense found the end zone when it needed to. Pickett, Harris and Jaylen Warren (who had 76 yards on 12 carries) took advantage of an extraordinary effort from the Steelers’ offensive line, which helped Pittsburgh put up 198 yards.

Why the Ravens lost

Baltimore’s defense was unable to make a game changer on the Steelers’ final two possessions. The pass rush wasn’t a factor in the game at that point, allowing Baltimore’s secondary to contain Pickett and the Steelers’ passing attack. All night, even Baltimore’s defense couldn’t slow down the Steelers’ duo of Harris and Warren, who combined to rush for 187 yards on 34 carries.

Offensively, the Ravens relied on Andrews and JK Dobbins. While both players were effective, Baltimore’s lack of offensive diversity held the Ravens to just three points in the game’s final 30 minutes. It also helped the Ravens convert less than half a dozen third-down situations.

Turning point

Trailing 13-9, the Steelers needed a stop by their defense to get the ball back to their offense after Baltimore’s defense forced a punt with 6:32 left. Pittsburgh got the stop it needed when Heyward and linebacker Mark Robinson stuffed Dobbins for no gain from the Ravens’ 44-yard line with 5:05 left on a third-and-2 play.

The stoppage gave the Steelers more than enough time to put together a game-winner in which Pickett went 5-of-6 for 64 yards.

the game

Pickett and Harris were unable to score on a pass near the Ravens’ end zone in the game. The duo wasn’t denied on the ensuing play, as Harris managed to pick off Pickett’s pass after Pickett intercepted Baltimore’s pass. The game-winning touchdown pass was Pickett’s second in as many weeks, after he threw the game-winning touchdown pass to George Pickens on Christmas night against Las Vegas.

Remarkable

“I thought in the middle we kind of came into our own and had some real honest conversations and had the kind of focus that was needed to finish the game, and I’m thankful for that.

“Not enough can be said about our young people [quarterback]. He smiles at that. He is always ready to be that guy when we need him. ” — Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on his team and rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett.

What’s next

The Steelers host the Browns in a game Pittsburgh must win to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Steelers also need a Jets win in Miami and a Patriots loss in Buffalo to make the postseason. Pittsburgh fell to Cleveland when the two teams met for the first time in Week 3.

Baltimore will travel to Cincinnati for a game that is sure to impact the AFC playoff standings. The game could decide who wins the AFC North if Cincinnati is unable to defeat Buffalo on Monday night. Either way, the Ravens have already clinched a spot in the playoffs.





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