Gridiron Report: Steelers Edge Ravens to Make the Playoffs

Written By Anthony Cugini, Steelers Columnist

The Steelers took down the Ravens 16-13 in overtime to sneak into the playoffs.

In usual Steelers-Ravens fashion, both teams struggled on offense throughout the majority of the game. In what was most likely his last regular season game, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 30 of 44 passes for 244 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Most of the Steelers’ offensive struggles came in the first half where each team managed to only put up three points each. Pittsburgh receiver Chase Claypool had arguably his best game of the season as he caught five passes for 37 yards and a touchdown. He also ran the ball three times for a total of 33 yards.

Rookie running back Najee Harris, who suffered an elbow injury in the first quarter, ran for only 28 yards, though most of those yards came on a 15-yard run that helped put the Steelers into field goal range in overtime.

Pittsburgh’s win can be mostly credited to the Steelers defense. Pittsburgh was able to force three turnovers which included interceptions by safety Terrell Edmunds and cornerback Cam Sutton. T.J. Watt also forced a fumble which was recovered by defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux.

Watt also made history on Sunday as he tied Michael Strahan for the most sacks in a single season at 22.5. Watt’s historic season could’ve been even more impactful had he’d been healthy throughout the entire year.

Though the Steelers defense played well overall, they struggled stopping the Ravens rushing offense. Ravens running back Latavius Murray ran 16 times for 150 yards and a touchdown. Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley, who was filling in for former MVP Lamar Jackon, also managed to scramble for 72 yards.

Pittsburgh struggling to stop the run is nothing new as they came into week 18 as the 31st ranked run defense as they allowed 139.6 yards per game. The only team who had allowed more rushing yards per game were the Houston Texans who finished the season 4-13.

Despite these struggles, the Steelers stepped up when they needed to and were able to complete the season sweep against the Baltimore Ravens just as they did against the Cleveland Browns.

With the win, all the Steelers needed was for the Jacksonville Jaguars to beat the Indianapolis Colts and for the game between the Raiders and Chargers to not end in a tie. The Jags shockingly beat the Colts 26-11, but the job wasn’t done yet. In what was arguably the best game of the year, the Raiders beat the Chargers on a walk off field goal to win the game with time expiring in overtime. If the Raiders missed the kick, the Steelers season would’ve been over. With a little help, and a lot of luck, the Steelers were able to sneak into the playoffs at 9-7-1.

In the playoffs, Pittsburgh sits as the seventh seed meaning the Steelers will take on the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the playoffs. When these two teams had met prior it was barely a contest. The Chiefs dominated from the start and beat the Steelers 36-10. Though the matchup may seem in Kansas City’s favor, the Steelers are coming into the game hot as they’ve won two straight games against division rivals.