The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2017 season ended not only prematurely, but also bitterly, suffering an early postseason exit after falling to the Jacksonville Jaguars at home in the Divisional Round by a score of 45-42. The wounds are still fresh, but it’s time to relive the 2017 season that was, starting from the beginning.
Chapter XV – Pass D Crumbles Against Rodgers-Less Packers As Boswell Plays Savior
It had been a problem that was building and building all season, but this was perhaps the game in which the dam broke. Even factoring in the absence of Joe Haden, their top player in the secondary, the performance that they allowed from Brett Hundley cemented the reality that there were serious problems with the Steelers’ pass defense.
Hundley completed 17 of 25 pass attempts during the game, for 245 yards, and in spite of the fact that he was under pressure through much of it—he was sacked four times—he threw three touchdown passes without being intercepted for a quarterback rating of 134.3.
And those were long touchdown passes. It started off with a 39-yard connection to Randall Cobb on a play that came with Hundley under pressure, but he was able to escape and made the throw down the field, Cobb getting the better of Artie Burns on second and 11.
The Steelers opened the game with a long, methodical seven-minute scoring drive that ended with a Ben Roethlisberger touchdown pass to Xavier Grimble for one yard, but the Packers quickly undid that gain. After Pittsburgh stalled at midfield, the Packers struck again.
After a one-yard run and an incomplete pass, the Packers were looking at third and nine, and Hundley completed a pass short over the middle to the running back, Jamaal Williams, whose catch and run ended up going for 54 yards and a touchdown, the visiting underdogs taking a 14-6 lead, because Chris Boswell had missed the opening extra point.
Roethlisberger was able to drive the offense back with a touchdown to Martavis Bryant from 17 yards out on a deep target that featured a nice catch and throw, and the quarterback followed that up with a successful two-point play to Antonio Brown.
But the first half opened with another long Packers touchdown, this time Coty Sensabaugh losing to Davante Adams on the right side for a 55-yard touchdown, on third down once again. The Steelers had to scramble for the rest of the quarter to tie.
They took the lead a bit before midway in the fourth quarter when Roethlisberger connected with Brown from 33 yards out, but Hundley and the Packers responded with a long scoring drive to tie it again at 28. The Steelers had them in third and 12, but they ended up converting on fourth and six.
After two possessions, the Steelers got the ball back with 17 seconds remaining. Two catches by Brown for 23 and 14 yards—one a toe-tapper at the sideline—helped set up Boswell for a game-winner from 53 yards away, which he hit, the longest field goal of his career, with no time remaining.