By Jim Wexell, The Sports Xchange- UPI
Call them the Cardiac Kids.
The Steelers (11-2) won their eighth straight game and clinched the AFC North Division title. The Ravens fell to 7-6.
It was the fourth time in the last five games that a late Boswell field goal gave Pittsburgh a win. Unlike the other three, the Steelers left time on the clock, but a T.J. Watt sack of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco ended the game and wrapped up the division title.
“Gotta love Boz,” said Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. “I hate that we put it on his shoulders, but there’s nobody I’d rather have doing it than him.”
The Steelers rallied from a 39-28 deficit with 2:31 left on a record performance by Roethlisberger. He completed a career-high 44 passes on a career-high 66 attempts for 506 yards. Antonio Brown caught 11 passes for 213 yards.
Roethlisberger became the first quarterback with three career 500-yard games. Drew Brees of New Orleans is the only other quarterback with two 500-yard games, a total that has been reached only 21 times in league history.
Guard Ramon Foster called it, “a sneaky 500.”
“Nobody knew. We were just rolling,” said Foster. “Everybody’s locked in. Nobody’s worried about anything and that’s what we found in each other. Nobody’s pointing fingers. Nobody’s mad. We had some issues, but everybody kept it tight and that’s how you get a sneaky 500, when nobody cares who gets the praise.”
“I had no idea,” said Roethlisberger. “Needed every one, though, didn’t we?”
They needed every one of their 545 yards of offense because the defense, playing without hospitalized linebacker Ryan Shazier, allowed 413, with most of the damage coming in the third quarter.
Trailing 20-14 at halftime, the Ravens scored 17 unanswered points to open the second half. A 40-yard pass from Joe Flacco to Mike Wallace set up a 47-yard Justin Tucker field goal that cut the deficit to 20-17 with 10:06 left in the third quarter.
Baltimore finally took the lead with 5:20 left in that quarter on an easy seven-play, 60-yard drive through the toothless Steelers defense in 3:06. Alex Collins ripped off a 17-yard run past linebacker Arthur Moats to the Pittsburgh 1, from where Buck Allen, lined up as a fullback, bulled his way into the end zone for a touchdown and a 24-20 lead.
The assault continued with another Ravens touchdown in three plays. Fullback Patrick Ricard caught a 6-yard pass from Flacco for a score to complete an embarrassing defensive showing with 46 yards on two penalties and a 21-yard run by Collins. It put the Ravens ahead 31-20 with 2:43 left in the third quarter.
Boswell kicked his third field goal, a 24-yarder, to cut the lead to 31-23 with 12:16 left in the game.
Roethlisberger tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Roosevelt Nix with 9:15 left to play to put the Steelers into position to tie the game. But, after a pass interference penalty moved the conversion attempt to the 1, running back Le’Veon Bell was stopped running wide and the Ravens held on to their two-point lead.
Baltimore answered with a 9-yard touchdown run by Allen, but the Steelers stormed back with an 11-yard touchdown run by Bell to cut the lead to 38-36 with 3:15 remaining.
Pittsburgh then took the 39-38 lead with a 46-yard Boswell field goal that proved to be the game-winner.
“Obviously, we’ve got some things that we need to work on,” said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. “But we’ll work on those things in our AFC North hats and t-shirts. For that, we are thankful.”
“You can never take the gas pedal off when you’re playing this team,” said Ravens safety Eric Weddle. “We played outstanding in the third quarter. Going into the fourth, we made three or four stops in a row. Then they just get on these runs that we can’t dig ourselves out of. You can’t do that against any team, let alone one of the best quarterbacks ever to do it.”
An interception kick-started the Steelers’ opening touchdown drive. The Ravens took the opening kickoff and drove to the Pittsburgh 30, but on third-and-4, Flacco was intercepted by safety Sean Davis at the 6.
Davis returned it to the Pittsburgh 41 and Roethlisberger went to work. His eight-play drive was capped by a 20-yard touchdown pass to Bell, who beat safety Tony Jefferson in coverage and ran through linebacker C.J. Mosley and Weddle at the goal line to score.
The Steelers increased their lead to 14-0 on their second possession. A 28-yard Roethlisberger pass to Brown put the ball at the Baltimore 6, and a pass interference penalty on cornerback Maurice Canady moved the ball to the Baltimore 1. Bell scored his second touchdown by running over Jefferson.
Chris Moore put the Ravens on the board by hauling in a 30-yard touchdown pass from Flacco with 9:07 left in the half. It was Moore’s second career touchdown catch and it cut the Steelers’ lead to 14-7.
A 43-yard Roethlisberger pass to Brown set up a 52-yard field goal by Boswell that gave the Steelers a 17-7 lead with 4:14 left in the half.
The Ravens came right back behind Collins, who ripped through some shoddy Steelers tackling for a 37-yarder down the sideline before running 18 yards for a touchdown that cut the lead to 17-14 with 1:53 remaining.
A 43-yard field goal by Boswell with one second left in the half gave the Steelers a 20-14 lead at the break.
NOTES: Sean Spence, picked up Wednesday by the Steelers to replace the injured Ryan Shazier and Tyler Matakevich, started next to Vince Williams at inside linebacker. … Ravens first-round draft pick Marlon Humphrey made his second career start, as a replacement for injured and suspended CB Jimmy Smith. … Pittsburgh K Chris Boswell’s 52-yard field goal in the second quarter was 1 yard short of a Heinz Field record Boswell matched in the Steelers’ previous home game.