In a close game in Ravens/Steelers fashion, Pittsburgh pulled off a storybook ending after a sloppy start, winning with a walk off field goal in a wet overtime game for the 16-13 win! Also improbably getting into the playoffs with Jacksonville’s unexpected win and the Raiders nail biting last second field goal! Insane and unbelievable!!! In this article I will provide data from Pro Football Focus and takeaways from watching the film.
Let’s start with the offense:
Tight end Pat Freiermuth tops the PFF grades at 81.9 with the only 70+ grade and thought wide receiver Chase Claypool would be one of those players. Agreed with the below 50 grades of center J.C. Hassenauer, running back Kalen Ballage, and guard John Leglue’s lowest grade of 41!
Pittsburgh’s offense came out first to start the game with a first down handoff to running back Najee Harris, met quickly by the linebacker tackling the one-yard gain. Tackle Joe Haeg got the start at left tackle but aligned on the right side on the second and nine run, getting pushed back and allowing the tackle on another one yard run by Harris. Third and eight now and Harris got another touch on pass short of the sticks, putting his hand on the ground but unfortunately can’t elude the tackler that flipped him over, resulting in an injury that would sideline and limit him for most of the contest! Tough start, three and out.
The offense returned at 9:57 to great field position off the defensive takeaway with a play-action roll, pump faking to fullback Derek Watt then finding tight end Zach Gentry with good YAC on the 11-yard gain! On second down running back Benny Snell got the carry with Harris sidelined, a successful five-yard gain getting the corner despite Haeg getting beat. On second and five Snell provided another good run with good blocks from Hassenauer (starting over Kendrick Green), Haeg, and Leglue leading the way on the nine-yard gain!
This set up first down in the red zone, where quarterback Ben Roethlisberger targeted Claypool on an out route going over his head incomplete. On second and ten, back to Snell but met at the line with the defender easily shedding Leglue’s block for the tackle. Third and 11 now, Roethlisberger wisely gets the ball out with a free blitzer in his face to wide receiver Diontae Johnson on the quick slant but stopped just short of the sticks and shaken up on a hard hit by the safety. Pittsburgh decides to go for it on a big fourth and one at the five-yard line, but costly false start penalty on Snell sets them back and results in a field goal, Steelers up three.
3:56 left in the quarter, Snell is the rusher again finding a little space behind Gentry for two yards. On second and eight tackle Chukwuma Okorafor and guard Trai Turner sealed along with Leglue’s pull creating a gap, but Snell only got two yards again when Freiermuth couldn’t connect on his pulling block allowing the tackle. Third and six now and Freiermuth made the catch just short of the sticks with good push through the tackler to pick up seven yards and conversion! Unfortunately, Roethlisberger flung a deep target to McCloud here, up for grabs in double coverage and is picked off! Gives the ball right back off the defensive takeaway, still up three.
Off a failed fake punt by Baltimore, the offense returned at 14:14 in the second quarter with good field position. Roethlisberger play-actioned and rolled with wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud coming across the formation but slowed by a rushing linebacker on his flat route and tackled for no gain. On second and 10 the linebacker shot into the backfield way before Leglue could get there on his pull, meeting Snell immediately on the handoff for a loss of six! Behind the chains now on third and 16, Baltimore blitzed on the screen pass to McCloud but poor blocking from Claypool, Freiermuth, and Leglue allowing the tackle well short forcing a punt. Can’t capitalize on the field position, three and out, same score.
11:26 left in the second quarter, Haeg was beat off the line and Hassenauer pushed to the ground allowing the tackle on Snell’s run for only a yard. On second and nine Roethlisberger did a great job faking the defense eying on Claypool on the screen with Gentry showing block, then ran upfield to a great back-shoulder throw past the undercutting linebacker for the explosive catch and run of 25 yards! Snell got the first down carry, but only one yard with a lack of interior push. On second and nine Roethlisberger play-action rolled with Gentry crossing the formation into the flat making the catch behind the line and working ahead for a positive gain of two. Third and seven now, Roethlisberger just gets the pass off with Haeg and Hassenauer both getting beat, but unfortunately Johnson slipped on his cut resulting in the incompletion. Unfortunate third down fail, wet field a factor, short drive and no score change.
The offense returned at 5:34 to empty formation with Leglue missing the blitzing linebacker, Hassenauer pushed back, and Turner losing late with Roethlisberger pumping (Claypool wide open), resulting in the QB hit on the late throw to the Gentry broken up. On second and 10 Haeg created a slight push on the Snell run but Leglue allowed a quick tackle for only two yards. Third and eight now, and unfortunately Roethlisberger and McCloud miscommunicated on the route that thankfully wasn’t picked. Three and out, still no touchdowns, 3-0.
Another opportunity with 2:35 left in the half and pinned back at their own seven-yard line, Ballage got his first carry but had nowhere to with Hassenauer pushed back and Okorafor beat for no gain. On second and 10 Johnson was the target on a quick slant a bit high but catchable off his hands incomplete. Third and 10 now, and Roethlisberger targets the out route to Freiermuth but his feet got tangled with the defender tripping him up, no interference call and incomplete. Fourth three and out of the first half, poor offense continues, lead remains 3.
Pittsburgh kneeled with seven seconds to go into halftime. Ugly first half with only 16 rush yards, 17 receiving yards to WR’s, no touchdowns, score is 3-3.
The offense got their first opportunity in the second half at 12:25 down by seven, starting with a good run by Snell of seven yards with a nice pulling block from Watt to get around the edge. On second and three Roethlisberger found Johnson on the quick stop route with cushion for the five-yard gain. The following first down was a creative reverse to Claypool, (good design with Harris out) and good block from Freiermuth to allow the cutback for a healthy 14-yard gain!
Another first down here, this time a great route from Johnson past the sticks with separation for 16 yards and fourth straight successful play! Third straight first down, a run where Leglue allowed the defender to hit Snell at the line, and despite good fight only got a yard. On second and nine Roethlisberger threw to Johnson with space off the good pivot route and YAC for eight yards! Third and one now, Gentry’s man got inside his block along with Turner getting beat, stopping the Snell run for a loss of one! Frustrating third and short fail, team’s really missing Harris, but get points with another field goal cutting deficit to four.
With 5:34 in the third off a short punt, Harris returned to the field and got the first down toss with a good block from Haeg, but Leglue and Turner losing theirs allowing the tackle on the gain of three. On second and seven McCloud ran the out route, with a good throw by Roethlisberger despite a good under cut and contest by the defender but goes off his hands incomplete. Third and seven now, and Baltimore’s exotic front confuses the line with Turner committing to the left side where they dropped out, allowing a big gap on the right where the blitz came, putting Snell in a bad situation in pass pro with two free rushers and not picking up either forcing the sack! Frustrating recognition/assignments, fifth three and out, still down four.
Pittsburgh returned with 14:53 in the fourth quarter off an interception with a pass to Harris in the flat, but clearly tentative at contact with the injury on the gain of two. On second and eight Roethlisberger hands the jet sweep to McCloud who tosses to Claypool on another reverse with good blocks from Harris and Johnson in front for another nice gain of 17 yards! The following first down run had good collective blocks and a hole straight ahead, but Harris decides to bounce outside on the run timidly running out of bounds for a loss of one. On second and 11 Claypool steps up again, this time a pass on his out route for a gain of ten. Third and one now, Roethlisberger play-actions then eludes the pocket with Hassenauer pushed back, finding Harris who leaked late for the target behind the line then cutting inside for nice YAC on the gain of 10!
Harris got another carry on the following first down with Turner getting a good initial push but Baltimore disengaging from Turner, Hassenauer, and Haeg to rally on the tackle for no gain. Haeg was then penalized for hands to the face, negating a sorely needed big yards after contact/stiff arm run by Snell, a deflating fourth team penalty. On second and a long 25, Roethlisberger targeted Freiermuth over the middle and was nearly picked off again by the undercutting safety, instead incomplete. Third and 25 now, with Baltimore playing seven defenders way off, Roethlisberger threw quick to Claypool for seven yards setting up the seventh punt of the game!
The offense returned with good field position off a McCloud return at 8:07, Roethlisberger corrals a high snap then gets the first down throw over Haeg being pushed back to Claypool on the out route for the gain of eight! On second and two Claypool gets another touch on the jet sweep and good job getting north and south around Turner and Okorafor’s seal for the first with Baltimore playing the edge, and good diving effort to get just enough for the first!
The following first down was a slot screen to Johnson that the linebacker forced outside with Leglue unable to reach him, then Freiermuth losing his edge block on the loss of two. On second and 12 Leglue was pancaked to the ground on Roethlisberger’s quick throw to Freiermuth at the line, with a good cut inside and churn for YAC on the eight-yard gain! Leglue had another rough play, penalized for a false start on third down and Pittsburgh’s fifth team penalty! This set up third and nine, where Roethlisberger made a great and timely downfield throw to McCloud for the strong catch on contact for 20 yards!
This set Pittsburgh up in the red zone on first down, Roethlisberger takes the empty shotgun snap, looks to Harris, then throws to his second read Freiermuth in tight coverage broken up incomplete. On second and 10 Harris got the carry following Freiermuth’s pulling block and around Okorafor’s seal to gain four yards. Third and six now, and Freiermuth got the target on a stick short of the sticks, able to elude the first tackle and gain 11 yards and the first down inside the five-yard line! Another shot in the foot on first and goal, a false start on Okorafor sets them back for a face-palming third o-line penalty in the fourth quarter!
First and goal from the nine, Haeg fell on the ground on his pass block where Roethlisberger found Johnson on the drag route gaining three yards, and McCloud was out in front but put his hands up to ensure no holding penalty. On second and goal from empty formation, Roethlisberger pumps then retriggers to Claypool on the slant, seeing the defensive back going with Freiermuth’s route on the same side for a huge touchdown read and grab! Great long drive draining the clock, overcoming penalties, and great seeing Claypool step up with a good game, three-point lead with 2:57 left!
1:13 left in the fourth and a tie game, Haeg was pushed back cuing the Roethlisberger throw on the move to Freiermuth, making the catch on an out route with two receivers running go’s on that side clearing him space and YAC for 10 yards! The following first down was another pass, this time good protection but unable to connect on the laser throw ahead of McCloud in double coverage incomplete. On second and 10 Roethlisberger threw quick to Claypool on the stick route, making the grab and running out of bounds for six yards. Third and four now, and Roethlisberger got it quick to Freiermuth in the flat, running out of bounds close to the first but the ball was spotted just shy for a huge third down fail! Pittsburgh elected to punt, playing the field position game with 44 seconds left instead of a short go for it on fourth down.
Returning with only seven seconds left, Roethlisberger kneeled to send the game to overtime!
The offense gets their opportunity with 6:24 following the defensive stand at their own 17-yard line, to an impressive one-handed catch by Harris, plucking the high target from Roethlisberger that otherwise may have been intercepted, then getting great YAC after a cut eluding two guys to the sideline for 11 yards! The following first down was a hand-off to Harris, finding a small hole between Leglue and Freiermuth’s pulling block along with second level blocks from Haeg and Hassenauer on the three-yard gain. On second and seven Harris was pushed back in pass pro affecting Roethlisberger’s throw falling short and incomplete to Claypool. Big third and seven now, and clutch throw and catch by Freiermuth in tight contested coverage along with a few YAC yards for the huge first down!
The drive continued with a quick target to Gentry in the flat, tackled quickly on the gain of one. On second and nine, Leglue missed his pulling block ending up on the ground resulting in no gain on the Harris run. Third and nine and loved the play call here going to Johnson and his amazing pivot route, making the defender trip all over himself on the catch and YAC of 10 yards for the second huge third down conversion!
Another first down with 3:22 left, handing to Harris behind Freiermuth’s pull but Leglue lacking push and allowing the tackle on the two-yard gain. On second and eight Roethlisberger has time and steps up but low on the target to McCloud, who nearly made a great sliding catch but incomplete. Another big third down now, with eight yards to gain but Johnson slipped on his in route then only got one hand up on the catch attempt falling incomplete. Fourth and eight with the game on the line, and Roethlisberger extends this vintage-style long drive, targeting McCloud who made a great low catch for an unbelievable play for 10 yards and clutch first down!
The drive continued with 2:28 left with a Harris carry where Leglue, Turner, and Freiermuth got pushed back and did good to get back to the line for no gain. On second and ten Baltimore filled all their run gaps well, so Harris pulled out a spectacular bounce outside making a guy miss behind the line, and after Claypool stood around kicked into high gear to provide a lead block along the sideline on the gain of 15! Impressive end for Harris after the early injury! This put Pittsburgh in the red zone, where Roethlisberger kneeled bringing the clock down to the two-minute warning. This set up the game winning field goal from 36 yards for the huge game winner, overcoming another slow start but ending strong and unbelievable outcome to get into the playoffs, Steelers win 16-13!!!
Now for the defense:
Well-deserved highest grade for Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt (88.9)! Cornerback Cameron Sutton (88.8) also headlines the PFF grades along with Miles Killebrew (88.3) on his limited snaps and deserving 76-grade for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. The below 50 grades were defensive lineman Chris Wormley and Isaiahh Loudermilk on his limited snaps, along with linebacker Alex Highsmith and lowest grade of 39.6 for James Pierre on the fake punt.
Pittsburgh’s first defensive drive began after a three and out from the offense, and quarterback Tyler Huntley play-actions then scrambles following good Steelers coverage, able to get the edge around Wormley with fellow lineman Montravius Adams getting off his block and pursuing him out of bounds for only two yards. On second and eight Baltimore stayed in the air with a quick pass on a stop route where Sutton stood him up on the three-yard gain. Third and five now and Watt, Highsmith, and linebacker Devin Bush pushed the pocket, but Huntley got the pass off to the open man due to linebacker Robert Spillane going with stellar tight end Mark Andrews creating space with cornerback Arthur Maulet was beat allowing the 19-yard gain and first down. This first down was a jet sweep where Highsmith pushed his blocker in the backfield, then Sutton could have run to the ball more aggressively but pushed him out for only two yards. On second and eight the Ravens center hit his butt on a botched snap, Huntley corralling, then Watt got an awesome strip and defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux fighting to get the recovery! Great start for the defense with a first drive takeaway!
With six minutes left in the first, Pittsburgh’s defense benefited from a false start setting up first and 15. Baltimore did not stay behind the chains long with Andrews contested catching the lob pass over safety Terrell Edmunds for 13 yards. On second and two running back Latavius Murray picked up the first down on a four-yard gain with Adams’ great get off but falling and Watt missing a backfield opportunity, then Loudermilk making the tackle. Huntley drops, scrambles after good coverage, then Loudermilk got a good push to limit his run lane despite missing the sack and great backside pursuit from defensive lineman Cameron Heyward for the sack and loss of two! On second and 12 Bush was beat up the hash by Andrews, but the pass was overthrown and great diving pick by Edmunds with Andrews foot touching him down before he lost control! Two straight takeaways to start the game, lead still three!
The defense returned at 1:34 off Roethlisberger’s interception, giving up an explosive 22-yard run right away with Highsmith going for Huntley and Heyward sealed, giving up the edge with safety Minkah Fitzpatrick finally pushing him out. The following first down Watt worked off his block to redirect the rusher in the backfield with Maulet aggressively running from the opposite edge to drop him for a loss of five! On second and 15 linebacker Joe Schobert was late to react to the wide receiver drag route on the short catch and run for 11 yards with Fitzpatrick cleaning up another chunk play.
The drive continued to begin the second quarter with third and four, Huntley felt Watt and Highsmith collapsing the pocket and scrambles forward fighting through a Heyward miss but good shed and pursuit by Wormley to tackle the two-yard gain for the stop! Good job against three scrambles, another short Baltimore drive, still 3-0.
Following an offensive three and out, the defense returned with 12:20 in the second quarter where linebacker Taco Charlton and Schobert set the edge on the first down run with Watt unblocked and chasing down the three-yard run on the cutback for the tackle. On second and seven Maulet came free off the edge for the quarterback hit as he threw forcing the incompletion, but Maulet was shaken up getting the worst of the contact. Third and seven now and Andrews was the target but great play by Edmunds to react and make the hit at the catch point for the incompletion! Great three and out of their own, same score.
With 8:46 left in the first half, Huntley scrambled for the fourth time following good coverage where Bush took a poor angle but great one from Fitzpatrick to limit the gain to three yards. Baltimore goes up-tempo here on second and seven and the receiver got space off the run fake, making the catch for 10 yards with Fitzpatrick making the quick tackle. The following first down was a pass to Andrews who got space on the out route against Edmunds, tackling the catch quickly for six yards. On second and four Highsmith attempted his spin move on tackle Alejandro Villanueva who stayed in front allowing the scramble, with Wormley unable to get there allowing Huntley to slide for just enough for the first down where Spillane made the hit and noted Bush not running to the ball. Watt had a chance on the next run in the backfield, but good fills behind him and Spillane making the tackle on the gain of two. On second and eight Andrews got the catch in the flat where cornerback Joe Haden made a great read, react, and tackle for no gain! Third and eight now, Watt came up huge with a great quarterback hit around two blockers, forcing the throw into the ground incomplete! Fourth third down stop for the defense, continuing to keep Baltimore off the scoreboard. Still 3-0.
The Steelers defense returned at 4:29 allowing their second explosive play right away on a pass to Andrews, where Maulet was beat across the field but made the tackle on the 28-yard gain! The following first down Highsmith was able to chase the run from behind tackling the gain of three. On second and seven Loudermilk pushed Villanueva back cuing Huntley to scramble forward but ran into his lineman allowing the touch-down sack for Wormley for a loss of four! Third and 11 now and Andrews got the deep target but slipped on the incompletion with Sutton in trail coverage! Lucky break here, another short drive, lead still 3.
One last defensive drive before halftime at 1:46 with poor field position off a bad punt, Watt got around the edge but allowed Huntley’s first successful scramble (sixth attempt) with Haden unable to make a tackle in space and Fitzpatrick having to clean up the long 18 yard gain! The following first down was a completion to Andrews despite Spillane lined up in tight coverage off the line on a good back-shoulder throw for seven yards. This set up second and three in the red zone where Highsmith committed to the running back allowing Huntley to keep with room to run for the easy first down on the gain of seven with Sutton making the tackle.
First and goal now with 46 seconds left, Huntley rolls left and targets the back in the flat where Sutton reacted quickly and made the tackle for only one yard! On second and goal Heyward was penalized for roughness on his hit on the Huntley scramble, tough call with Huntley not going down setting up first and goal at the three-yard line. Watt won easily around the edge against two blockers again, getting to Huntley for the huge sack to tie for the single season record! On second and goal Huntley threw a bullet to the receiver at the goal line between Fitzpatrick and Sutton, luckily off his hands incomplete! Third and goal now, and Watt provided another huge play getting his hands up for the tip (hurt his groin) and QB hit for the huge third down stop and goal line stand! Baltimore gets the field goal, great first half defense with three sacks and two takeaways, tie game.
The defense came on first to start the second half to a run where Heyward shed Villanueva to the ground, making the tackle for a loss of one! On second and 11 Huntley got the swing pass to the back who spun through tackle attempts by cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon and Maulet then Bush making the tackle on the five-yard gain. Third and six now, Watt and Heyward closed the pocket, but Huntley slithered past to scramble outside and ran out for eight yards. The following first down was a 10-yard run with a big hole with Mondeaux blocked inside, Schobert committing inside, and Highsmith sealed but working off to chase and make the tackle. Another first down run here, where linebacker Derrek Tuszka was sealed by the pulling tight end, Bush blocked by the pulling guard, Spillane blocked by another tight end, and great cut by the back to exploit Fitzpatrick’s angle to take it for the explosive 46-yard touchdown! Rough start to the half, third explosive play allowed (and touchdown), ten quick Ravens points, Steelers down by seven!
With 7:35 in the third quarter down by four, Schobert shot into the backfield to force the run inside where Wormley shed the block to make a good tackle for only one yard! On second and nine Killebrew reacted well off his zone drop on the short target to the tight end, and great job wrapping up despite the churning effort for only one yard! Third and eight now, and Sutton made a diving attempt on the receivers out route getting credit for pushing him out, but the receiver lacked awareness not extending/running up field resulting in a three and out! Deficit at four.
Pittsburgh returned with 4:06 in the third quarter, letting up another explosive play to start a drive on a big 22-yard run with Bush washed, Wormley missing an arm tackle, Edmunds blocked on the second level, and finally Fitzpatrick and Witherspoon making the tackle and the latter injured on the play. The following first down was another back-to-back explosive run, for the fifth explosive play allowed in the game, through a hole between Wormley and Heyward along with Haden late to react on his angle, Fitzpatrick missing a diving tackle attempt, and thankfully the rusher tripped allowing the touch down by Haden on the 27-yard gain! Embarrassing.
Third straight first down, and Pittsburgh tightened up with Watt working off the Andrews block to combine for the tackle with Bush for a reasonable three yards. On second and seven Adams got a good push to force the cutback, with Highsmith running to Huntley allowing a big lane but chased him down for the tackle of six yards. Third and one now in the red zone, Andrews gets the handoff aligned as the fullback where Killebrew shot into the backfield to make the hit with Mondeaux combining to finish the tackle for no gain! Ravens go for it on fourth and one, and the Steelers did great initially plugging the middle, appearing to get the stop but Huntley pushed forward late to get just enough for the huge conversion with Adams credited for the tackle. The following first down was the seventh straight run of the drive where a hole opened with Watt double teamed but good pursuit from the backside by Highsmith and Spillane coming for the tackle of three yards.
The drive continued to start the fourth quarter where Huntley’s inexperience bites him, making a bad decision to throw to Andrews in double coverage in the end zone with Sutton being the beneficiary, under cutting the route for the huge timely interception! Takeaway number three, second interception, recovering to close a poor drive, deficit still four!
The defense returned with 9:55 in the fourth quarter to three straight runs. On the first, Tuszka and Heyward held the edges forcing the run into the clogged middle where Schobert tackled the two-yard gain. On second and eight Villanueva sealed Highsmith, then redirected him so the rusher could bounce outside the gap filled by Schobert, then Bush missed an angle, followed by Maulet making the hit and banged up again when Heyward combined for the tackle falling on top of the pile. Third and two now, and great get off by Tuszka and Heyward with the latter making the tackle on the up the middle run for only a yard and third down stop! Good stuff for only the second three and out, still down 6-10.
Pittsburgh returned with 2:48 left in the fourth up by three following the big Claypool touchdown, with Wormley providing a tipped pass on first down for the incompletion! On second and 10 Andrews chipped Watt then released to a route over the middle for the short catch and run with Bush in coverage and the tackle but 11-yard gain. The following first down Baltimore ran all stick routes well covered by Pittsburgh, cuing Huntley’s eighth scramble for his longest explosive 21-yard gain (fifth allowed in the game) where Highsmith lost contain, cutting inside Sutton blocked on the edge, and Witherspoon directing him inside where Schobert made the pursuit/chase down tackle.
This led to first down at the two-minute warning, with Highsmith beating Villanueva for the quarterback hit as he threw to Andrews with great coverage and pass break up from Edmunds! On second and eight Huntley went right back to Andrews, this time for a short completion against Allen with Haden combining for the tackle on the gain of eight. Third and two now, Huntley takes the snap for the designed run where Heyward fought through a double team to stop him, and Watt came in to finish the combined tackle for no gain! Huge stand to prevent a touchdown, but field goal ties the game 13-13.
With 38 seconds left and the game on the line, Baltimore’s first pass was complete to Andrews on the drag route with Edmunds in coverage but stiff armed for YAC on the 12-yard gain. The following first down was a near long completion on the sideline, but Fitzpatrick accelerates and laid big hit and crucial play for the stellar pass breakup! On second and ten Watt provided an excellent rush on a hand swipe move on the overthrown incompletion with Haden and Fitzpatrick in coverage. Third and 10 now with 25 seconds left, Huntley throws to Andrews quickly on the go up the middle over his head with Allen in coverage! Huge stand with three straight incompletions forcing the punt, still tie game and on to overtime!
The defense came on first to start, allowing another good run of 11 yards out of the gate with Heyward working off his block but missing an opportunity, Bush blocked by the pulling lineman then working off and pursuing to combine with Wormley on the tackle. The following first down was another run of four yards getting between Watt and Adams who lost his balance with Schobert staying clean to make the tackle. On second and six, Highsmith pushed the pocket forcing the Huntley scramble (tenth of the game) with Adams slipping on an opportunity at the line, but Schobert came off his zone drop to limit the gain to four yards on a second straight nice tackle. Third and two now, and another run from Baltimore finding a small hole between Heyward and Wormley to pick up three yards and just enough for the first down where they combined for the tackle.
The following first down stayed on the ground with a great play by Heyward to get off his block for the solid tackle of one yard. On second and nine, Huntley threw his first pass in overtime, falling incomplete with good coverage from Witherspoon tipping it away but had an interception opportunity if he got both hands up. Big third and nine now, and this pass was also incomplete, this time thrown behind Andrews due to a great rush from Watt, very lucky with Bush beat on the play. Great job forcing the punt and getting the ball to the offense to win the overtime game!!!
Last let’s look at special teams:
Snell headlines the PFF grades (90.5) along with +70 grades from Gilbert, Tuszka, and Maulet. The 50 and below grades were Rader, Killebrew, and Norwood’s lowest grade of 30!
McCloud took the opening kickoff and shot through a lane with good blocking from Ballage and Allen for a great 32-yard return! Harvin came out early for his first punt following an opening three and out, starting with a short 36 yarder that was fair caught at the 20-yard line. Kicker Chris Boswell connected on his first field goal mid-first quarter from 28 yards. His following kickoff only went to the 12-yard line with a 19-yard return where Norwood made the tackle. Baltimore came out to punt on their third drive, deciding to go for the fake with the pass going ahead of the receiver and incomplete on a turnover on downs! Harvin’s second punt was also poor, a 34 yarder to the 20-yard line and was fair caught. With 11:26 in the second quarter Baltimore truly punted for the first time with McCloud fielding the 44 yarder at the 33-yard line for a six yard return, but Allen was penalized for a hold setting the offense back 10 yards. Another short of 26 yards on Harvin’s third attempt, only going to the 16-yard line where it was fair caught. With 4:39 in the second quarter, Harvin had his best 49-yard punt on his fourth attempt bouncing to the 30-yard line and downed by Pierre. Harvin’s fifth punt before halftime was another bad 33 yarder, rolling out of bounds at the Pittsburgh 40-yard line! McCloud’s second kickoff return following the Baltimore field goal before halftime went to the 13-yard line, fielding it off the bounce for a 13-yard return.
Boswell kicked off to the nine-yard line start the second half, with a 23-yard return with Gilbert and Allen combining for the tackle. With 12:32 following the explosive rushing touchdown down by seven, McCloud’s kickoff return from the seven-yard line with a good cut and forcing a miss for 28 yards. Boswell made his second field goal from 39 yards at 7:45 in the third quarter to cut the deficit to four. The following kickoff went to the seven-yard li ne with a 27-yard return with Killebrew guessing the wrong angle then Pierre and Allen combining for the tackle. Harvin’s sixth punt went 46 yards only to the 25-yard line with a great immediate tackle by Spillane for no gain! Harvin’s seventh punt with 10:00 in the fourth quarter went 36 yards to the 14-yard line for a fair catch. McCloud had another good return at 8:19 in the fourth quarter, fielding it from the 27-yard line for 23 yards with Layne getting a block and good vision/cuts to the 50-yard line! Boswell kicked off with 2:54 left in the fourth following Claypool’s touchdown and three-point lead, fielded at the six-yard line for 26 yards where Tuszka a diving miss and Allen making the tackle. Harvin’s eighth attempt came with 44 seconds left in the fourth, a 38-yarder fair caught at the 18-yard line.
Boswell kicked off to start overtime to the six-yard line with Killebrew missing a tackle and Gilbert making the tackle on the 18-yard return. Following the long drive led by Roethlisberger, Boswell came on for his third and crucial 36-yard field goal, and in typical clutch fashion nailed it down the middle for the incredible game winner, along with the unbelievable outcome sending Pittsburgh to the playoffs with the 16-13 win!!! Incredible!!!
STEELERS VS. RAVENS WEEK 18 SNAPS AND SEASON TOTALS:
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