For the third straight week, a Chris Boswell field goal was the difference in a Pittsburgh Steelers victory.
Pittsburgh overcame a nine-point deficit in the closing minutes to escape with a 39-38 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night, extending their winning streak to eight games and clinching the AFC North in the process.
Pittsburgh Steelers @steelers
Kings of the North. https://t.co/sng7uz7dAX2017-12-11 05:03:51
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 506 yards, leading a game-winning drive that ended with a Boswell go-ahead field goal with 42 seconds remaining.
Pittsburgh is now 11-2 on the season, including a 5-0 record in the division. Baltimore fell to 7-6 after snapping a three-game winning streak.
ESPN Stats & Info noted the impressive run for the Steelers within the division:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Steelers clinch 3rd division title in 4 seasons 6th since Mike Tomlin became Steelers coach in 2007, which trails only the Patriots (9) for the most in the NFL in that span.2017-12-11 05:01:40
Both teams looked in control at different points during what culminated in a surprisingly high-scoring finish. Each defense ranked in the top five in scoring entering the week, with both units especially excelling against the pass.
The Ravens hadn't allowed a 300-yard passer all year, but Roethlisberger torched the unit for over 500 yards and two touchdowns. Antonio Brown added 11 catches for 213 yards, while Le'Veon Bell had 125 total yards and three scores (two rushing, one receiving).
Mark Viviano of WJZ discussed the performance of the Killer B's:
Mark Viviano @MarkWJZ
This much is clear: Roethlisberger, Brown & Bell are incredible in the clutch. That's 8 straight W's and 4 of those wins have been comebacks won on a FG on their final possession. That's unreal.2017-12-11 05:03:25
It seemed like this would be an easy win for Pittsburgh based on the opening few possessions. After a Joe Flacco interception on the opening drive, it was the Bell show at the start of the game, as the running back scored touchdowns on each of the team's first two drives and the Steelers jumped out to a 14-0 lead:
Pittsburgh Steelers @steelers
7️⃣➡️2️⃣6️⃣ PIT 7 | BAL 0 #HereWeGo https://t.co/ZwOCOvgsgU2017-12-11 01:52:57
.@L_Bell26 will NOT be denied. His 2nd TD of the game! #HereWeGo #BALvsPIT https://t.co/bRMFmLQB6Y2017-12-11 02:14:29
However, the Ravens didn't panic despite the early hole. They got the ball to Alex Collins, who pounded the ball on the ensuing two drives to get the team into the end zone.
His 18-yard touchdown scamper helped cut the deficit to 17-14 before the half:
Baltimore Ravens @Ravens
Have a day, @Budda03. This is his fourth-straight game with a rushing TD. #ProBowlVote https://t.co/6mURjxhJNI2017-12-11 02:43:52
Pittsburgh held a 20-14 lead at intermission, but the Ravens took the lead with a dominant third quarter.
Baltimore had a field goal and two touchdowns on its first three possessions of the second half, stunning the home team and its crowd. In a span of six drives during the second and third quarters, the Ravens had four touchdowns and one field goal.
While Joe Flacco had 269 passing yards and two touchdowns, Collins was the key to the offense, running hard and making players miss all over the field. He finished with 166 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown, and plenty of people took notice:
Field Yates @FieldYates
Alex Collins: waived during final roster cutdown, signed to the Ravens practice squad three days later. Now an impact starter. Great story.2017-12-11 02:41:57
Ryan Mink @ryanmink
Alex Collins has turned this year's Ravens offense into a unit that can win games down the stretch.2017-12-11 02:42:11
Alex Gelhar @AlexGelhar
Alex Collins is proof yet again of how players can change with time in the league. This player is so much improved from the back we saw at Seattle and Arkansas.2017-12-11 03:36:02
Javorius Allen vultured two touchdowns, but it doesn't take away from a dominant effort from Collins.
Baltimore led by 11 points at the start of the fourth quarter, although this impressive catch by fullback Roosevelt Nix helped trim the Ravens' advantage to two, 31-29:
MOSSED BY A FULLBACK! 😱 #BALvsPIT #HereWeGo https://t.co/V2UuUwmGLU2017-12-11 04:20:19
After Allen's second touchdown run and the ensuing extra point, which padded Baltimore's lead and made it 38-29, Pittsburgh completed the comeback. Bell secured his trio of touchdowns on an 11-yard run with just over three minutes remaining before Boswell nailed a 46-yard kick that left the Ravens little time to operate. The short-handed Pittsburgh defense was stout, sacking Flacco on the final play of the game to seal the win.
The Steelers will have an intriguing battle next week against the New England Patriots in a matchup that could decide the No. 1 seed in the AFC.