This Sunday night matchup was rife with playoff implications. The Pittsburgh Steelers needed to win to keep their wild-card hopes alive, while the Baltimore Ravens, who already have a playoff spot, still have a chance to win the AFC North.
The black and gold emerged victorious to save their season. The Steelers defeated their division rival, 16-13, thanks to a late touchdown from rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett to running back Najee Harris.
There wasn’t much offense in this one, as the Ravens, in particular, have been struggling to score points with Lamar Jackson still out. The Steelers have also gone through several quarterbacks this season, and this time it was rookie first-rounder Pickett who got the start.
The Steelers got the ball on their own 20-yard line down four points with a chance to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, but the game turned out to be a thriller.
Pickett was delivering strikes on this drive, connecting with Pat Freiermuth for 20 yards to get to midfield after picking up one first down. Pickett then threw a seed across the middle of the field to Steven Sims for 28 yards to make things interesting in Ravens territory.
Pickett would eventually scramble out to his left a few plays later and fire a dot to running back Najee Harris to take the lead, 16-13, with just under a minute left to play after burrowing under the offensive line for another first down on a quarterback sneak.
It was Pittsburgh’s first touchdown of the game, but it couldn’t have come at a better time with their season on the line.
With Justin Tucker on the sideline, the Ravens and quarterback Tyler Huntley realized they didn’t need to travel far into Steelers territory to attempt a game-tying field goal and send the game to overtime. Tucker’s leg has previously hit from more than 60 yards away.
However, Huntley was careless with the ball. He decided to throw a deep pass intended for Demarcus Robinson on 2nd-and-10 from the Baltimore 38-yard line. Instead, it fell into the hands of Pittsburgh safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who sealed the victory.
While the Ravens will be hoping that the Cincinnati Bengals lose to the Buffalo Bills on Monday night, snapping their seven-game winning streak, the Steelers can still make the playoffs if they beat the Cleveland Browns.
If that occurs, Pittsburgh will still require assistance from the New York Jets, who must defeat the Miami Dolphins while the New England Patriots lose to the Bills. So, yes, we believe Mike Tomlin’s group has a good chance of getting in.
Kenny Pickett finds Najee Harris for six. Steelers take the late lead ‼️
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 2, 2023
Both teams began the game with long, methodical drives that ended in field goals. The Steelers’ drive covered 73 yards in 15 plays and took 7:59 off the clock, while the Ravens covered 61 yards in 15 plays in 7:52, effectively ending the first quarter with no one having the upper hand.
It wasn’t until a Chris Boswell field goal missed sparked a Ravens drive that went 62 yards for a touchdown to rookie tight end Isaiah Likely for seven yards that Baltimore took the lead.
More field goals were kicked in the second half, most notably Tucker’s 51-yarder. Both teams’ defenses were outstanding, keeping the game extremely close.
Pickett finished with 168 yards on 15 of 27 passing, while Harris led the way in the run game with 111 yards on 22 carries. Jaylen Warren added 76 yards on 12 touches as well.
Mark Andrews had 100 yards on nine receptions for the Ravens, while J.K. Dobbins had 93 yards on 17 carries. Huntley finished 14 of 21 for 130 yards with a touchdown and an interception.