PITTSBURGH — The Baltimore Ravens agonized for nearly a year about their inability to get one defensive stop last season when the Pittsburgh Steelers drove 75 yards on Christmas Day for a game-winning Antonio Brown touchdown in the final seconds to win the AFC North.
Given another opportunity, the Ravens squandered it again in similar fashion. Chris Boswell's 46-yard field goal with 42 seconds left capped the Steelers' comeback from 11 points down in the fourth quarter and gave Pittsburgh a pulsating 39-38 victory over the Ravens in front of an announced 60,069 at Heinz Field.
The Ravens led 38-29 with just seven minutes to go when Buck Allen scored on a nine-yard run. But the Baltimore defense just couldn't get a stop.
The Steelers made it a two-point game when Le'Veon Bell powered in from 11 yards out for his third touchdown of the game. The Ravens then went three and out, and the Steelers took over at their own 17 with 2:25 to play.
Ben Roethlisberger, who finished 44 for 66 for 506 yards and two touchdowns, hit Jesse James for 16 yards on third and 13. And then he found Brown with a beautiful throw down the sideline for 34 yards. That play, which gave Brown 11 catches for 213 yards, was the decisive one in setting up Boswell for the field goal. It was Boswell's fourth game-winning field goal in the past five games.
The Ravens got the ball back, but Flacco was sacked in the final seconds as the Steelers swept the Ravens for the first time since 2008.
With the win, the Steelers (11-2) clinched the AFC North title at the expense of their rivals. The Ravens, meanwhile, fell to 7-6 and had their three-game winning streak end in agonizing fashion. They still hold the sixth and final playoff spot based on tiebreaker criteria.
Trailing by 14 points early in the second quarter and by six at halftime, the Ravens scored 17 straight points in the third quarter to build a 31-20 lead. It started with the defense getting three consecutive stops to start the half. The Steelers went 6 for 7 on third down in the first half, but the Ravens stopped them on three consecutive third downs in the third quarter.
They parlayed the first stop into a 47-yard field goal by Justin Tucker, which was set up by a 40-yard Flacco completion to Mike Wallace. It could have been a touchdown; Wallace got behind a Steelers defensive back, but Flacco underthrew him.
On the Ravens' next drive, Flacco hit Jeremy Maclin for 19 yards and Allen for 12. Collins then got the ball down to the Pittsburgh 1-yard line with a 17-yard scamper before Allen powered in for the touchdown. Allen's fifth touchdown on the season gave the Ravens their first lead at 24-20.
And they built on it thanks to some more good, hard running by Collins. He got the edge for a 21-yard gain, pushing him over 100 yards on his way to 120. An unnecessary roughness penalty and a pass interference call two plays later created a first-and-goal situation, and Flacco hit defensive tackle-turned fullback Pat Ricard for a six-yard touchdown pass. It was the undrafted rookie's second touchdown catch in as many weeks.
The score gave the Ravens an 11-point lead, but it was the Steelers' turn to grab the offensive momentum. Roethlisberger led a 15-play, 80-yard drive that ended on a 24-yard field goal by Boswell.
After the Ravens' first punt since the first quarter, Roethlisberger hit Brown for a 57-yard completion on third down. A pass interference call on Brandon Carr in the end zone preceded Roethlisberger's one-yard touchdown throw to fullback Roosevelt Nix. The Ravens stopped the two-point conversion attempt and led by nine again after Allen's second touchdown.
Much of the focus entering Sunday's prime-time game was on how prepared and emotionally ready the Steelers would be following a physical Monday night victory over the Cincinnati Bengals and the significant spine injury to standout inside linebacker Ryan Shazier.
The Steelers answered the call.
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