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Steelers are heading into playoffs looking like NFL’s most dangerous team
- Updated: December 26, 2016
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offence established itself as the most lethal bunch heading into the playoffs, securing another AFC North Division title after their clutch performance on Sunday afternoon against the Baltimore Ravens
Ever since they lost in a 35-30 shootout to the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, the Steelers’ offence has put on a show, leading their team to 6 straight wins and outscoring their opponents 158-97. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is normally known for his defensive schemes, but it’s been the playcalling of offensive coordinator Todd Haley and the play of their dynamic trio of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell that’s taken this team to another level. They’re peaking at the right time, picking apart defences with their consistent and explosive play-making abilities.
On Sunday, the story would be a little different – with the Steelers having to complete a tough comeback in order to clinch their spot in the playoffs. With the Ravens’ offence playing to their potential, mixed in with a pair of costly interceptions from Roethlisberger, the Steelers were able to persevere and show the rest of the NFL what they were truly capable of doing when their backs were against the wall.
Despite getting off to a great start and taking a slim 7-6 lead by halftime, the Steelers would put themselves on the ropes – with Roethlisberger throwing an interception on his 1st throw of the 2nd half. The Ravens would get the ball at the Pittsburgh 34-yard line, and would take advantage of their opportunity by scoring a TD to take a 14-7 lead.
While the Steelers were faced with immense pressure, they were also going against a desperate Ravens team that were (was) a loss away from falling short of the playoffs. After both teams traded field goals, Roethlisberger gave the Ravens another Christmas gift by throwing another interception; giving the Ravens a chance to put the game to rest. The Ravens would capitalize with a field goal do start the 4th quarter, giving themselves a 20-10 lead with 14:21 left.
The Steelers looked like they were in jeopardy of losing their season, but that’s when they would finally wake up and answer back against the Ravens’ 6th ranked defence . Behind the confidence of their leader in Roethlisberger, the Steelers would respond with 2-straight touchdown drives. Roethlisberger would go 3-3 for 35 yards on the 1st drive, and 3-4 for 54 yards on the 2nd – catching fire in the crucial stages of the game with Bell finishing both drives with a TD.
Behind their precision and focus, the Steelers would take a 24-20 lead with 7:16 remaining, but even though they had momentum on their side while playing in front of a roaring Heinz Field, the Ravens weren’t showing any signs of backing down. Joe Flacco drove his team down the field once again, and was able to take advantage of a weak Steelers defence, capped off with a 10-yard TD from Kyle Juszczyk to give the Ravens a 27-24 lead with 1:18 remaining in the final frame.
The Steelers had one last chance to finish Christmas with a division title under their belt, and they didn’t disappoint. The offensive unit would create a fantastic drive, with Roethlisberger leading the way and connecting with 5 different receivers on their last possession. The Steelers’ QB would finish his clutch drive by using his star wideout in Brown, who would push and reach his way for an extra yard to complete a TD that would give the Steelers a 31-27 lead with only 9 seconds remaining on the clock.
Antonio Brown has a total of 1 yard gained after contact on his 12 TD receptions this season. It came on the go-ahead TD vs Ravens
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 26, 2016
The Ravens couldn’t answer back with a Hail Mary, instead the Steelers penciled themselves into the playoffs behind their miraculous comeback. They also notched their 600th win as a franchise, helping add another high note to an already momentous day for the Steelers.
Behind the play of their high-powered offence, the Steelers have started to take over the league. Roethlisberger bounced back from his inconsistent 2015 campaign, throwing for 29 touchdowns, 3,819 passing yards, 13 interceptions, and a passer rating of 95.4 this season. He’s been the field general that the Steelers have needed this season, constantly keeping his team poised and geared up for every game this season.
Brown has also been nothing short of spectacular, as he continues his incredible pace from last season, catching 106 passes, to go along with 1,284 receiving yards, and 12 TDs. He’s been Roethlisberger’s go-to target, and continues to be one of the best wideouts in the NFL; joining Marvin Harrison as the only player to notch 4 straight seasons with at least 100 catches.
To compliment their passing attack, Bell has been playing like an MVP candidate as the Steelers’ main running back – carrying the ball with efficiency and patience. Since returning from his 4-game absence, the 24-year-old has rushed for 1,268 yards on 261 carries along with 7 TDs. He’s been one of the more dominant ball carriers in the NFL this season, making the Steelers offence simply too much for any defence to contain.
With these 3 dynamic players utilizing their extraordinary talents at a high level, the Steelers are “booming” with momentum – heading into the postseason looking like the best team in all of football. The New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs better watch out , because the Steelers are ready for whatever challenge comes their way as they look to continue their quest towards their 7th Super Bowl in franchise history.
All stats for this article are from NFL.com
You can follow Peter Ash on Twitter @peterash_