PITTSBURGH – Lifeless for three-plus quarters in a game that they almost had to have if they wanted to keep their fading postseason hopes alive, the Pittsburgh Steelers summoned the fortitude necessary for a fourth-quarter comeback to edge the Baltimore Ravens 20-19 at Heinz Field on Sunday.
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Diontae Johnson connected for two fourth-quarter touchdown passes and Roethlisberger also tossed a two-point conversion to elevate his team.
Through three quarters, the Ravens had nearly doubled Pittsburgh’s offensive production, and the visitors had almost tripled the Steelers’ time of possession.
After one half, the Steelers, who trailed 7-3, had gained only 93 total yards while going 0-for-4 on third downs. Baltimore had 191 total yards and a time-of-possession command of 23:30 to 6:30.
But as the Ravens had to settle for field goals in the second half, the Steelers took advantage of a fatigued Baltimore defense and shifted to more of a run-heavy approach, grinding out the two touchdown drives. The two scoring connections were each the result of coverage miscues.
The first Roethlisberger-to-Johnson score came on a 29-yard strike, where confusion in the secondary left the wide receiver wide open with an easy path to the end zone. The second came when Baltimore’s Marlon Humphrey appeared to play too far off Johnson, who made a grab and scored from a few yards out.
That touchdown and two-point conversion to tight end Pat Freiermuth gave the Steelers a 20-13 advantage – their first lead of the game – with 1:48 left on the clock.
Baltimore mounted a final charge, and Jackson connected with Sammy Watkins for a six-yard touchdown pass. The Ravens went for the win rather than the tie, and Jackson’s two-point toss intended for tight end Mark Andrews sailed wide. The tight end got only one hand on the ball before it fell harmlessly to the ground, preserving Pittsburgh’s one-point lead.
Pittsburgh improved to 6-5-1 and snapped a three-game winless streak (a tie and two straight losses). Baltimore, meanwhile, dropped to 8-4 and now is in jeopardy of losing the top seed in the AFC, depending on how the New England Patriots fare against the Buffalo Bills on Monday night.
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