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Week 13 Postgame: Steelers 17-point 4th quarter rally keeps playoff hopes alive.

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Week 13 Postgame: Steelers 17-point 4th quarter rally keeps playoff hopes alive.

The Pittsburgh Steelers endured a long week of criticism and attack after the humiliating 41-10 Week 12 drubbing to the Cincinnati Bengals.  Throughout the week, the talking heads began to bury Ben Roethlisberger, and even comments from former Steelers championship players like Rocky Bleier and Ryan Clark.  The Adam Schefter rumor mill got hot this past week with the announcement that Roethlisberger has told many former teammates and some within the organization it would be his final season.  Naturally, this brought out the trolls who couldn’t stop with how it was a year too late and jumped on how bad Ben was.  But Ben would get the last laugh on this day.

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Heading into Week 13, the Baltimore Ravens were a 3.5 point favorite and many casual viewers considered the outcome of the game a foregone conclusion.  The Steelers had shown they struggled with stopping the run in recent weeks and who better to exploit that than the most run-heavy offense in the league?  Early on, it seemed like all the prognosticators that buried the season were proving to be right as the Ravens marched deep into Steelers territory on the opening drive.  However, the Steelers defense has always proven to be a difficult matchup for Lamar Jackson and this day would be no different.  On a 3rd and 6 from the Steeler 11-yard line, T.J. Watt would apply the pressure (something he would do all day, ending with 3.5 sacks and forcing a fumble), and Jackson would heave it into the end zone only for Minkah Fitzpatrick to haul it in and end the Ravens threat.

While the Ravens would recover two possessions later and proceeded to engage in a 16-play, 99-yard TD drive (the longest drive in the series history) that took 10:27 of possession, the Steelers could only manage 6:30 time of possession for the entire first half (the lowest in the 15-year history under Mike Tomlin).

However, things really weren’t as drastic as they might have appeared to be.  Roethlisberger was attacking the Ravens depleted secondary and all while he just missed on what would have been a 33-yard gain to Chase Claypool.  At the end of the first half, Diontae Johnson split the coverage deep and dropped a perfectly thrown ball from Big Ben that would have been a game tying TD, but he would make up for that later.  Ray-Ray McCloud had a catch reversed on a very questionable review as well.  Regardless, the Ravens were shown to have a weakness to covering downfield and it would only be a matter of time before it was exploited.

While the Ravens had controlled the game for 3 quarters, they couldn’t control it for 4.  The Steelers entered the 4th quarter down 10-3, but Big Ben, Najee Harris and the Steelers offense kicked into another gear.  Harris was kept out of the end zone and under 100 yards (finishing with 71 yards on 21 carries and 5 catches for 36 yards), but gained 58 yards on 16 carries in the 2nd half as the Steelers began to wrest control of the game away from the Ravens.

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The 4th Quarter

Diontae Johnson bounced back from the TD drop in the first half to haul in 2 TDs in the 4th quarter, including a beautiful 29-yard catch that was the result of a total team effort.  Roethlisberger and Harris executed a flawless play action due that froze half the Ravens’ defense, Roethlisberger then was able to go old school, pull off a beautiful pump fake, then found Johnson wide open to haul in a 29-yard TD where the offensive line gave Big Ben a gorgeous pocket to throw out of.

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While the Steelers’ defense struggled to get off the field in the first half, it did not surrender points.  And while Lamar Jackson was able to pull of some beautiful plays, the aggressive Steeler defense was able to take the elusive QB down with 7 sacks as the game slowly morphed into the Steelers style of game.  Cam Heyward registered a sack to compliment the historic day Watt had, as Watt tied James Harrison for the single season team record of 16 sacks set back in 2008.

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Perhaps the most gratifying game was from Chris Wormley, who registered 2.5 sacks (the most in one game since he was in college), 2 TFL and 6 QB hits against his former team.

The Steelers truly came big in the clutch, pulling off an 11-play, 69-yard drive that took 4:33 off the clock and ended with Ben tossing a TD to Johnson, followed a huge 2-point conversion to tight end, Pat Freiermuth.

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The Ravens finally came back to make a game of it, barely escaping a game ending forced fumble by Watt that literally jetted out of bounds before the Steelers defense could land on it.  Jackson frantically positioned the Ravens into a chance to win the game with a TD to Sammy Watkins, but when the Ravens opted to go for the win and a 2-point conversion. Jackson’s attempt to Mark Andrews came up incomplete thanks to great pressure by Watt and the Steelers won their 3rd consecutive game against the Ravens in the best rivalry in football.

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Quick Takes:

Perhaps the Ravens should be looking forward to a Ben Roethlisberger retirement.  Not only has he won 7 of his last 8 starts against the Ravens, he has routinely beaten the rival with comeback wins:  10 times including playoffs.

Ben Roethlisberger achieved his 51st game winning drive and 40th 4-quarter comeback, placing him 3rd All-Time in both categories.

Roethlisberger surpassed 63,000 yards passing and is only 335 yards from passing Phillip Rivers for #5 All-Time.  With 2 TDs, Roethlisberger needs only 10 TDs to surpass Rivers for #6 All-Time (421).

Roethlisberger continued the longest active streak of consecutive games with a TD pass (25).  His 123 games with 2+ TDs are the most in Steelers history (Terry Bradshaw – 65).

In the 4th quarter, Ben Roethlisberger had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 going 9/10 for 129 yards with 2 TD and a 2-point conversion.

Lamar Jackson struggles against the Steelers like no other team, with only 4 TDs vs. 6 INTs and 6 fumbles.

T.J. Watt tied the Steelers single season sack record of 16, set by James Harrison in 2008.  Watt accomplished this feat in just 10 games, and joined Reggie White as the only player with 4 consecutive seasons of 13 sacks.

T.J. Watt had 3+ sacks for the 4th time in his career, trailing only Joey Porter (5) and James Harrison (6) in team history since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.

Najee Harris has tied Le’Veon Bell and Bam Morris for the 2nd most 60 yard games (7) for a Steelers rookie.

The Steelers are 5-0-1 when Harris has 20+ carries and 1-5 when he has less than 20 carries.

Diontae Johnson has 80+ receiving yards in 4 straight games, the most since Antonio Brown in 2017.

Chris Boswell hit his 16th FG of 50+ yards, no Steelers kicker has had more than 8.

PMP; CSM; CSPO and host of the PMI-TB Agile Podcast. A lifelong Steelers fan, I had the chance of a lifetime when I was able to celebrate Super Bowl XLIII with the team. I love talking everything Steelers from the old days to the new and look forward to working with the team to grow this platform to be the premier Steelers site.

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