By Danny Cox
In week 16, the Pittsburgh Steelers eliminated the Baltimore Ravens from playoff contention and locked up the AFC North by defeating the Ravens 31-27 at home in a thrilling game. Steelers’ wide receiver Antonio Brown lunged into the end zone with nine seconds remaining to propel the Steelers to victory.
At times, the offense had some issues. For example, Ben Roethliberger threw two interceptions on the day. However, he was not sacked once and ended the day with 279 yards passing and three touchdowns, which included the thriller to Brown in the final seconds of the game. Brown finished the day with a game-high 10 receptions for 96 yards. Meanwhile, running back Le’Veon Bell helped balance things out with another strong performance, as he had 122 yards on 20 carries and one touchdown.
Pittsburgh’s defense hounded Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco all day, as they sacked him twice and Ryan Shazier picked him off once. Flacco looked a bit of out sorts throughout the day and it showed, but he still spread the ball around, as nine different Ravens’ players had at least one reception and a tenth was targeted, but never caught a pass.
The running game for the Ravens looked impressive at times with 122 yards combined on the day, but 50 of those came on three separate runs. The rest of the day, the Ravens combined for just 72 yards on 23 carries, which is why Flacco ended up passing 44 times on Sunday. Overall, the Steelers had a nice showing on defense.
Special Teams: A
Chris Boswell had seven point of his own by hitting his lone field goal attempt and connecting on all four extra point attempts. Jordan Berry helped in the field position game by punting three times for an average of more than 45-yards-per boot. He also pinned the Ravens inside their own 20-yard-line on one occasion.
Cobi Hamilton and Fitzgerald Toussaint both had decent days in the return game with each having a long of 20 yards to help the offense on a day when every single yard mattered.
Coach Mike Tomlin has come under fire a number of times this season, but there is no denying that he is still getting things done with this Pittsburgh Steelers team. A balanced attack on Sunday led to an impressive, but dramatic, victory over a strong division rival who still had a chance at taking the AFC North title.
The Pittsburgh Steelers certainly have a lot going for them, as they are riding a great winning streak and are now sitting as division champs for the second time in three years. Up next, the Steelers will host the Cleveland Browns in their regular season finale.