It was another Ravens-Steelers classic, but with a heinous ending for Baltimore, both in terms of the game and the season.
The Ravens' postseason hopes came to an end on Christmas day in Heinz Field on a game-winning drive in the final minutes by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
The Steelers clinched the division title with a 31-27 win in a back-and-forth game that the Ravens led by 10 points in the second half.
The Ravens took a three-point lead with one minute, 18 seconds left on a powerful 10-yard run by fullback Kyle Juszczyk, but it left too much time on the clock for a Steelers' comeback.
Facing one of the league's top defenses, Roethlisberger marched his offense 75 yards down the field and won the game when wide receiver Antonio Brown stretched the ball over the goal line with nine seconds remaining.
Safety Eric Weddle and linebacker C.J. Mosley hit Brown at the 1-yard line, but the Pro Bowl wide receiver fought them off. Had they been able to bring him down, the clock could have run out and ended the game.
Held to one catch for 7 yards in the first half, Brown killed the Ravens in the second half and finished with 10 catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. Running back Le'Veon Bell ripped off 122 rushing yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
The Ravens will be left wondering "what if," as they look back at the loss, as missed opportunities hurt them dearly.
The Ravens offense drove into Steelers' territory on all five first-half drives, but only got six points out of it. They could have had nine points, but one field-goal attempt went awry when punter/holder Sam Koch couldn't get a slightly high snap down.
In the second half, a holding call on center Jeremy Zuttah stalled one drive and the Ravens had to settle for a field goal. Then another interception put the Ravens in position for a touchdown, but tight end Darren Waller couldn't hang onto a catch in the end zone. Baltimore was gifted starting field positon at the 40-yard line in the fourth quarter when a kickoff went out of bounds, but went three-and-out.
The Ravens could have had a 14-point lead had Waller scored a touchdown, but instead went up 10. That's when Pittsburgh's offense, behind its two spectacular weapons of Bell and Brown, came to life. The Steelers scored 21 points in the fourth quarter alone.
- Bell ran six times for 39 yards on the Steelers' first offensive drive, which topped his total (32) from the teams' previous Week 9 meeting this season. Pittsburgh drew first blood with a 20-yard touchdown pass to reserve tight end Xavier Grimble.
- The Ravens were in field-goal range for a second time when Koch couldn't handle a slightly high snap from Morgan Cox. It would have been a 44-yard attempt to draw within one point behind, but instead gave the Steelers the ball and momentum. Tucker
connected on a 38-yard field goal at the end of the first half to cut Pittsburgh's lead to 7-6 at the break. * Inside linebacker Zachary Orr picked off Roethlisberger on the first drive of the second half, setting up an 18-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. on a beautiful throw and catch down the middle of the field. Smith also converted on a two-point conversion to put the Ravens ahead, 14-7. * Mosley jumped underneath a Roethlisberger pass to grab an interception, setting the Ravens up at the 11-yard line at the end of the third quarter. The Ravens nearly had a touchdown, but Waller had the ball punched out of his hands by Steelers rookie safety Sean Davis. The Ravens settled for a field goal and a 20-10 lead. * The Steelers drove back down the field thanks in large part to a 35-yard defensive pass interference call on rookie cornerback Tavon Young. Bell got to the edge for a 7-yard touchdown to pull the Steelers to within three points at 20-17. * After a three-and-out by the offense, Pittsburgh's offense got in gear behind its two biggest playmakers. Brown broke out of his slumber to make two catches for 47 yards. Bell ran twice for 36 yards and took a short pass on a broken play 7 yards into the end zone to give the Steelers a 24-20 lead with about seven minutes remaining. * Fullback Kyle Juszczyk bounced off a tackle by safety Mike Mitchell and dove over the goal line to give the Ravens a 27-24 lead with 1:18 remaining. The Ravens offense strung together a clutch 14-play drive to take the momentary lead, until Brown notched the game-winning score with 13 seconds remaining.
Standout Player of the Game
WR Steve Smith Sr.
The Ravens' veteran receiver, perhaps playing in his final games, displayed his sheer will, catching seven passes for 79 yards and a touchdown. He added a two-point conversion.
On The Horizon
The Ravens will finish the season in Cincinnati against the Bengals. Both AFC North teams have already been eliminated from the playoffs.
Check out the best photos from Pittsburgh as the Ravens battle the Steelers on Christmas day.