It wasn’t pretty, and they needed plenty of help from the Ravens to do it, but at the end of the day, the Steelers are more than alive in the playoff race in the AFC. Baltimore self destructed with penalties in the fourth quarter, and the Steelers used a big first half to hold on for a season saving 23-20 win.
The win means that the Steelers and Ravens are both 8-7, but more importantly, they live to fight another day. With the Jags losing to the Pats, and the Dolphins falling to the Texans, it means that the Steelers are alive for a wild card birth, but of course first on their list will be going to Florida next Sunday and beating the Dolphins.
The Steelers led 20-10 at halftime, but per usual their defense allowed the Ravens to rally in the third quarter, as they scored 10 points to draw even. The only points of the fourth quarter came after the Steelers put a drive together that big 3rd-down play to Tyler Grisham that covered 14 yards. The drive ended with a Jeff Reed 38-yard field goal.
The defense finally stepped up, as they got to Joe Flacco twice on the Ravens last possession, including on 4th down on a 4th-and-10 with the game on the line they got to Flacco from the Steelers 38. The Steelers needed one first down to put the game away, and got it when on a crazy third down play the Ravens were called for an illegal contact penalty which gave the Steelers an automatic first down and meant the Steelers could run out the clock.
Baltimore had chances to win the game, as a Willis McGahee touchdown was called back with the game tied at 20, then later on an easy touchdown catch by Derrick Mason was dropped in the end zone that could have put the Ravens ahead to stay the way the Steelers offense played in the second half.
The Steelers built a 10-point halftime lead on a Rashard Mendenhall 4-yard run with 12:52 left in the first half, then they went on a huge 7-play drive that with penalties went for actually 109 yards as the team converted on a Ben Roethliberger to Santonio Holmes 24-yard touchdown to make it 20-10 with :35 seconds left in the first half.
The Ravens though quickly rallied to get the 10 points back, as first they got a Flacco to Todd Heap 7-yard score with 9:30 left in the third to make it 20-17. Then after a Roethlisberger pick, they got a Billy Cundiff 38-yard field goal about three minutes later to tie it up at 20.
Baltimore though killed themselves with flags all day, as they 11 penalties for 113 yards, including the huge final 5 that gave the Steelers the first down to ice the game. The Steelers on the other hand played a rather clean game with just four penalties for 20 yards.
Roethlisberger was 17-for-33 for 259 yards with a TD and a pick. The team had 286 yards on offense, but were unable to run the ball with much success, as Mendenhall had just 36 yards, and the team had only 48 yards rushing, while the Ravens piled up 175 yards on the ground, as Ray Rice ran for 141 yards on 30 carries.
It was, as expected, more a matter of survival for the Steelers to find a way to win this one. Both Ravens games were nip and tuck, per usual, as they were both just three-point games. They now have to get this game behind them and start working on stopping the Dolphins next week and let the chips fall as they may.
For now, they showed the heart and character of a champion bouncing back with wins over the Packers and Ravens after losing five in a row.