PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers won one for injured star Ryan Shazier — and wrapped up the AFC North in the process.
Chris Boswell made a 46-yard field goal with 42 seconds left and Pittsburgh’s defense overcame a sloppy night to stop one Baltimore’s last-gasp drive in the Steelers’ 39-38 victory Sunday night.
The Steelers (11-2) trailed by 11 points going into the fourth quarter but capped an emotionally trying week following Shazier’s spinal injury to rally for their eighth straight victory and third division title in four years.
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 506 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to top 500 yards passing three times. Antonio Brown caught 11 passes for 213 yards, including two long gains in the fourth quarter that allowed the Steelers to recover after blowing an early 14-point lead. Le’Veon Bell had 125 yards of total offense and scored three touchdowns.
Baltimore’s Joe Flacco threw for 269 yards passing with two touchdowns and one interception but was strip-sacked by rookie linebacker T.J. Watt on the Ravens’ final snap.
Alex Collins ran for 120 yards and a touchdown for the Ravens (7-6).
Javorius Allen scored two touchdowns of his own and Baltimore appeared to have things well in hand after Allen’s second touchdown run gave the Ravens a 38-29 lead with 6:44 to go.
Then Roethlisberger and Brown went back to work. A 57-yard connection set up an 11-yard sprint by Bell with 3:29 to go. The Steelers forced the Ravens into a three-and-out and Roethlisberger calmly led Pittsburgh within field goal range, including a 34-yard lob down the sideline to Brown that set up Boswell’s winner.
The Ravens had one last shot, but Watt chased down Flacco as Flacco scrambled to buy time. The ball rolled out of bounds and the clock expired before the Ravens could get off another play.
Shazier, who remains in a Pittsburgh hospital recovering from a spinal injury suffered last week against Cincinnati, told his teammates to finish the work he helped start, and the Steelers raced to a quick 14-0 lead behind Bell. He lined up in the slot and worked free for a 20-yard touchdown reception on Pittsburgh’s first drive then bulled over from a yard out early in the second quarter to give the Steelers some breathing room.
Then the adrenaline faded and the reality of replacing Shazier set in. The Ravens recovered from a slow start to get back in it, with Flacco finding Moore for a 30-yard score and Collins bouncing off a handful of defenders on his way to an 18-yard touchdown that helped Baltimore get to 20-14 at the break.
The Steelers spent the week trying to deal with the emotional toll taken by Shazier’s injury while also trying to focus on the task at hand. Still, he remained very much a part of Pittsburgh’s division-clinching win.
Linebacker James Harrison took to the field shirtless during warmups even as temperatures hovered in the low-30s, a nod to one of Shazier’s pregame rituals. Several players wore NFL-approved tributes to Shazier on their cleats. Defensive captain Cam Heyward carried Shazier’s No. 50 jersey out onto the field during introductions and when Roosevelt Nix drilled Moore on the opening kickoff, Nix lifted his jersey to show a black T-shirt with Shazier’s number on it inside a gold circle.
Ravens: Visit winless Cleveland next Sunday. Baltimore beat the Browns 24-10 on Sept. 17.
Steelers: Will try to beat Tom Brady and New England for the first time since 2011 next Sunday.
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