Steelers Clinch Playoff Berth after 16-13 OT Win Vs. Ravens
[Baltimore, MD] The Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 season has been like the theme song of the sitcom “The Facts of Life:” ‘You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have, the Facts of Life, The Facts of Life…”
If their 36-10 loss to the KC Chiefs represented the ‘bad’ of the Steelers season, then their dramatic 13-10 Overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens represented the ‘good’. K Chris Boswell’s 34-yard FG in overtime combined with an Indianapolis Colts loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars (and the Las Vegas Raiders and LA Chargers game not ending in a tie) gave the Steelers the 7th and final playoff spot in the AFC.
“That Steelers-Ravens, I can’t say enough about the men in that locker room. Their collective will was on display. It was on display throughout a hostile environment today.” Said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin “Obviously, dire circumstances and so forth. A lot of competition in the stadium. Distractions, potentially on the outside. They were able to process all of that and make the necessary plays to secure a victory. I’m just appreciative of it, particularly some of those young ones.”
In addition to Boswell, the other hero was QB Ben Roethlisberger who continues to make his final season a memorable one as he led the Steelers on two critical drives late in the game. His first one was on a 10 play, 50-yard drive that ended with a 6-yard TD pass to WR Chase Claypool that gave the Steelers their only TD of the game and their first lead since leading 3-0. And his second one was in overtime as they drove 15 plays for 65 yards resulting in Boswell’s game-winning FG.
“I’m appreciative of our quarterback—QB 1 [Ben Roethlisberger].” Said Tomlin “He’s been smiling in the face of adversity for 18 years. So, even though it’s not surprising, it’s still appreciated.”
Pro Bowl LB TJ Watt was also a hero as he made history after sacking Ravens QB Tyler Huntley (Who was filling in for the injured Lamar Jackson) for sack number 22.5, which ties Hall of Famer Michael Strahan for the most single-season total in NFL history. It appeared that Watt also had another sack on a fumble by Huntley, but it was overturned.
“What can you say about T.J. that hasn’t already been said?”-Said Tomlin.
When Watt was asked about the sack record and leading the NFL in sacks, he replied “I don’t know if any of this has hit me. It’s not just myself. It’s so many other people involved, great players, coaches, schemes, and a lot of unselfish guys in the locker room that allow me to make plays. So, that record is not just mine.”
Pro Bowl DT Cam Heyward also sacked Huntley for his 10th sack of the season and DE Chris Wormsley also recorded a sack as well. The Steelers also got interceptions from S Terrell Edmunds and CB Cam Sutton.
The Steelers Road to the playoffs showed just how resilient they were and how they refused to give up, especially after a 1-3 start in which many critics expected them to suffer their first losing season since 2003 under HOF head coach Bill Cowher.
“It’s been our story all year. You guys buried us when we were 1-3.” Said Tomlin “We’ve got a lot of warts, but we’re here, and that’s been our position since September. I’m just appreciative of that mental fortitude being displayed by those men in that locker room.”
As the seventh seed, the Steelers will prepare to travel to KC to face the Chiefs next Sunday night at 8:15pm. They will be heavy underdogs, but they, like the rest of the NFL Playoff teams know that that you cannot ‘dance’ if you are not invited to the party. As a result of the Steelers maintaining their fight, they will now get their ‘dancing’ shoes on, with hopes of not only avenging their loss to the Chiefs a few weeks ago, but also their embarrassing loss to the Cleveland Browns in the Wild Card Playoffs a year ago.
“The growth and development of these young guys throughout this journey and the negativity that’s usually associated with growth and development did not take away from their efforts. They smiled in the face of it, and I’m just appreciative of that.”
Notes: WR Diontae Johnson finished the regular season with 107 receptions for 1,161 yards and 8 TDs, and rookie RB Najee Harris finished with 1,200 yards and 7 TDs. Boswell finished 36/40 for 135 points.
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