For those of you who follow our weekly “Turning Point” article, no the title above is not a typo or a duplicate post from a recent week. The Pittsburgh Steelers again squeaked out a late win against the Baltimore Ravens with another heroic effort by, you guessed it once again- Antonio Brown. Throughout the game Brown came up with big play after big play and ultimately finished the game with 11 catches and 213 yards, but his last catch on the day would prove to be the turning point of the game.
In a back and forth game, the Steelers found themselves down 38-36 with 2 minutes remaining and faced with a 3rd and 13 on their own 14 yard line. After a key 1st down catch by Jesse James, the Steelers would then find themselves with a 3rd and 4 at their own 36 yard line. This is where the game turning point would begin. Ben Roethlisberger hit Brown in stride down the sideline for a 34 yard gain where he ran out of bounds at the Ravens 30 yard line.
In one 6 second play the Steelers went from uncertainty to being in field goal range on the verge of completing another comeback win. Brown had 1 on 1 coverage with Ravens cornerback Brandon Carr down the right sideline and was simply able to beat him on a fly route. About 7 yards off of the line of scrimmage Carr attempted to jam Brown but was unsuccessful as Brown was able to bounce off and fight through it to gain a step on him. The pass was placed perfectly in stride and seemed to have the look of something these two have practiced and perfected a thousand times over the years.
Roethlisberger and Brown will gain most of the credit on this drive as they rightfully should, but I would be remised if I did not give a shout out to offensive tackle Chris Hubbard and of course, kicker Chris Boswell. On the above mentioned 34 yard catch by Brown, Hubbard did an excellent job of fending off a bull rush from Ravens edge-rusher Terrell Suggs. Suggs is a tough matchup 1 on 1 for any tackle in the NFL, let alone a backup with the minimal experience that Hubbard has. Hubbard was able to hold off Suggs just long enough forRoethlisberger to get the throw off and give Brown a chance.
Last but certainly not least, Boswell deserves a ton of credit as well as he was a perfect 4/4 on field goals for the night and ultimately kicked the game winner. Boswell has been a constant fixture in these recent late game victories and it’s about time he receives more credit.
Even after the field goal, the Ravens were only down 1 point with 42 seconds and 1 timeout remaining. There was plenty of time for them to get in field goal range and give Justin Tucker a chance to win the game. That is something that no Steeler fan wanted to see. Even at a 55-60 yard attempt I do not like the Steelers chances in that situation given Tucker’s track record. That brings us to the game sealing play. On 3rd and 10 the Steelers rushed 4 and rookie linebacker T.J Watt was able to beat his man and sack Joe Flacco from behind as he attempted to scramble to the left sideline. Watt was also able to knock the ball loose for a fumble and it rolled out bounds. After the ball was spotted and the clock started the game was over. This play is what you would consider an “effort sack” and a great showing of Watt’s high motor as he lined up on the opposite side of the field and was able to come all the way across and chase Flacco from behind.
The Steelers advanced to 11-2 on the season and clinched the AFC North in the process. They will host the New England Patriots next week in a game that will all but decide home field advantage in the playoffs.