Kenny Pickett leads Steelers to late rally to defeat rival Ravens, playoff hopes intact

This Sunday night matchup had playoff implications written all over it. The Pittsburgh Steelers needed to win to stay alive for a wild card, while the Baltimore Ravens, already owning a playoff spot, still has a chance to win the AFC North. 

It was the black and gold that came out on top to save their season. 

The Steelers defeated their division rival, 16-13, thanks to a late touchdown by running back Najee Harris from rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett.

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Najee Harris #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers leaps over a defender against the Baltimore Ravens during the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on January 01, 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Najee Harris #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers leaps over a defender against the Baltimore Ravens during the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on January 01, 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland.
(Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

There wasn’t much offense that came out of this one, as the Ravens especially have been struggling to put points on the board with Lamar Jackson still sidelined. The Steelers have also been going through different quarterbacks all season, and this time it was the rookie first-rounder Pickett getting the nod to play under center. 

However, the end of this game turned out to be a thriller as the Steelers got the ball on their own 20-yard line down four points with a chance to take the lead late in the fourth. 

And Pickett was delivering strikes on this drive, finding Pat Freiermuth for 20 yards to get to midfield after collecting one first down. Then, Pickett threw a seed to Steven Sims across the middle of the field for 28 yards to make things very interesting in Ravens’ territory. 

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After burrowing under the offensive line for another first down on a quarterback sneak, Pickett would eventually scramble out to his left a few plays later and fire a dot to running back Najee Harris to take the lead, 16-13, with just under a minute left to play.

It was the first touchdown of the game for Pittsburgh, but it couldn’t have come at a more crucial time with their season on the line. 

Isaiah Likely #80 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates a seven-yard touchdown reception against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on January 01, 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Isaiah Likely #80 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates a seven-yard touchdown reception against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on January 01, 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland.
(Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Having Justin Tucker on the sideline, the Ravens and quarterback Tyler Huntley understood they didn’t have to get far into Steelers’ territory to attempt a game-tying field goal and send it to overtime. Tucker’s leg has hit from beyond 60 yards before. 

But Huntley wasn’t careful with the ball. On 2nd-and-10 from the Baltimore 38-yard line, he decided to throw one deep intended for Demarcus Robinson. Instead, it found the hands of safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, which iced the win for Pittsburgh. 

While the Ravens will hope that the Cincinnati Bengals lose to the Buffalo Bills on Monday night, snapping their seven-game win streak to keep their division title hopes alive, the Steelers can still get in next week if they beat the Cleveland Browns. 

If that happens, Pittsburgh still needs help from the New York Jets, who must beat the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots lose to the Bills. So, yes, we’re saying there’s definitely a chance for Mike Tomlin’s group to get in. 

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The game started with long, methodic drives from both teams, but they each ended in made field goals. The Steelers’ drive went 15 plays for 73 yards and killed 7:59 of clock, while the Ravens went 61 yards on 15 plays over 7:52 of time, draining out the first quarter with no one getting the upper hand. 

Kenny Pickett #8 of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws a pass against the Baltimore Ravens during the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on January 01, 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Kenny Pickett #8 of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws a pass against the Baltimore Ravens during the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on January 01, 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland.
(Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

It wasn’t until a missed Chris Boswell field goal prompted a Ravens drive that went 62 yards for a touchdown to rookie tight end Isaiah Likely for seven yards to give Baltimore the lead. 

The second half saw more field goals, most notably Tucker knocking one in from 51 yards out. Solid defensive play on both sides kept it extremely close. 

In the end, Pickett finished with 168 yards on 15 of 27 through the air, while Harris set the tone in the run game with 111 yards on 22 carries. Jaylen Warren also contributed 76 yards on 12 touches. 

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For the Ravens, Mark Andrews had 100 yards on nine receptions, while J.K. Dobbins finished with 93 rushing yards on 17 carries. Huntley was 14 of 21 for 130 yards with his passing touchdown and interception.

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