Ryan Shazier was never far from the thoughts of his Pittsburgh Steelers teammates as they clinched the AFC North title with a come-from-behind, 39-38 win over the Baltimore Ravens on “Sunday Night Football.” Shazier, the 25-year-old linebacker who suffered a serious injury in last Monday’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals, watched Sunday’s game from his hospital bed, where he continues to recover from spinal stabilization surgery. ESPN reported last week that Shazier continues to show “gradual improvement,” but it’s unclear whether he’ll play football again.
Several Steelers players wore cleats bearing the message “Shalieve” on Sunday and linebacker James Harrison warmed up shirtless, despite the 35-degree weather, as Shazier often did. On an emotional night at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh trailed the Ravens by nine points with 6:44 remaining, but rallied to win on Chris Boswell’s 46-yard field goal in the final minute.
“We got a W today,” Shazier said in a video posted on the Steelers’ Twitter account after the game. “It got scary, but hey, we knew how to pull it out, baby. Here we go Steelers.”
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who became the first player in NFL history with three 500-yard games, carried Shazier’s No. 50 jersey off the field after the win. The Steelers made sure Shazier was able to partake in the locker room celebration after the team clinched its third division title in four years. They also dedicated the game ball to him.
“A very emotional group in there,” Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin said. “We had Ryan Shazier on FaceTime. He had an opportunity to share that moment with the team. That’s a special thing.
“I’m glad we could get this win for Shay,” Roethlisberger said. “It was really tough. I went and saw Shay on Thursday after practice. Guys are starting to go visit him. When you walk in and see him and give him a hug, it makes you breathe a little easier. We love our brother and we are glad we got this win for him.”
“We knew in spirit, he was all there with us,” said wide receiver Antonio Brown, who had 11 catches for 213 yards against the Ravens. “And for us to get it done and the way we got it done today and being able to FaceTime him, to see the joy from him. It’s special. We don’t take it for granted. He’s our brother. I know he wasn’t out there with us, but he was there in spirit. And I know he was our biggest supporter, watching us fight together today.”
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