The Pittsburgh Steelers needed a win on Sunday, over the Baltimore Ravens, to have a chance at sneaking into the postseason. Along with that win, the Steelers needed Indianapolis to lose to Jacksonville, and the night game between Las Vegas and Los Angeles (Chargers) to NOT end in a tie.
The last of those games will kick off at 8:20 p.m., just under two hours from now. But for the two early games of that set, both broke the Steelers’ way. As the Jaguars were upsetting the Colts 26-11, the Steelers were forcing overtime and coming through in OT to earn a 16-13 victory over the Ravens, likely earning the final spot in the AFC postseason.
Pittsburgh’s victory wasn’t possible without the heroics of many, particularly as the Ravens led throughout the entire second half and received the kick to start overtime. Chris Boswell hit a 36-yard field goal through a crosswind to win the game, after the Pittsburgh defense forced a Baltimore punt near midfield to begin overtime. And on offense, Ben Roethlisberger led drives to temporarily take the lead with under three minutes left in regulation, and to set up Boswell’s kick in OT.
Also making big plays late were all of Roethlisberger’s targets, most of whom ended up being targeted near the end zone or on third and fourth down. Among those was Chase Claypool, who likely caught Roethlisberger’s final regular season touchdown pass with 2:54 remaining in regulation, giving Pittsburgh a 13-10 lead. It was a big catch for the second-year receiver, one of the biggest of his career and a spot where the Steelers trusted him to make the play.
“There was a time maybe like in college where my number would be called and I’d get like anxious, like excited and stuff like that. But I think, there’s a couple times my number got called [today], and I was like more excited, not anxious, just ready to make a play,” Claypool said during a postgame press conference.
Claypool’s touchdown came on second and goal, from six yards out. Roethlisberger hit him short to the right side, and he made a cut upfield to get to the end zone and temporarily give Pittsburgh a lead. His points still allowed the Steelers to go to overtime when Baltimore kicked a game-tying field goal seven plays later.
He was the only Steeler with a touchdown in the win, but not the only target with a big play. On that scoring drive and on the team’s lone drive in overtime, several Steelers caught passes on third or fourth down to keep the offense out there for Pittsburgh, among them Pat Freiermuth, Diontae Johnson, and Ray-Ray McCloud.
Among them, McCloud in particular came through, catching not only a 20-yard pass on third down during the team’s touchdown drive in regulation, but catching a pass on fourth down in overtime, and getting the first. Four plays later, Boswell kicked the winning field goal. Claypool praised his fellow receiver after the contest, for his efforts in keeping the team’s season alive.
“After the touchdown catch, I told him it was all him, because he had a big catch to lead up to that,” Claypool said. “That’s not possible without Ray-Ray.”
The Steelers, provided a rare tie does not materialize between the Raiders and Chargers, will enter the postseason as the seventh seed, and play on the road at second-seeded Kansas City next weekend.