As a football fan I've grown to appreciate Ravens-Steelers games even though I could careless about the outcome. Something about these two teams and the hate they have for one another always leads to a special game, rarely are you disappointed by the way this game plays out. I thought the rivalry would change when Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu, Casey Hampton, and all the other legends that have played on these two great franchises retired, fortunately for the fans it did not. Last night was another example of why these games are so special, lead changes, bone crushing hits, and late game dramatics is what this rivalry is all about, and last night it delivered it all. It was a great Christmas present for NFL fans regardless of your team, well except if your a Baltimore fan.
The Steelers had to win this game to clinch the division, a division that seemed so out of reach when they were 4-5 just 6 weeks ago. The Ravens needed to win this game and next week to win the division, week 17 was against the Bengals, so basically this game was for the AFC North division title. The first half was all defense, the Steelers put together one nice drive early, but couldn't do anything the rest of the first half. The Ravens were able to get a couple field goals on the board, but for the most part their offense was ineffective too. The second half was pure madness though, it made up for any lack of action in the first half, 7-6 Pittsburgh going into what was maybe the craziest half of football in 2016.
Ravens struck early in the third, they picked off Big Ben on the first drive of the second half, and then Joe Flacco connects with Steve Smith Sr. for a 20 yard touchdown. Boy was Steve Smith in beast mode for this game, no surprise there, obviously one of the most fierce competitors is going to show up for the biggest game of the season, but at his age it's just remarkable how he continues to play at such an insanely high level. Steelers followed that up with a field goal on their following drive, the score was now 14-10, Ravens ahead. Ravens would kick another field goal late in the third to extend their lead to 17-10, yes Justin Tucker once again the only kicker in the NFL that puts the offense on his back, or in this case his foot. Makes me sick that a kicker is actually the best player on his team's offense, Justin Tucker is just that nice with it though. Anyways, Ben Roethlisberger would throw his second interception of the half giving the ball to the Ravens inside the Steelers 10 yard line, and the game seemed to be the Ravens to lose. The Ravens were held to another field goal, ultimately saving the Steelers hopes of winning this game. Redzone inefficiency will cost ya, gotta get 7 instead of 3, that'll make or break you in this league. The legs of LeVeon Bell would begin to save the day, on the Steelers next 2 offensive possessions they'd score on LeVeon Bell touchdowns to take the lead 24-20. All game the Ravens defense looked great against the run, that was until LeVeon decided to kick into that next gear, and take over the game. Ben was making the throws he had to and all the sudden the Steelers looked phenomenal, meanwhile the Ravens season was about to be flushed down the stinker. It was time for Flacco to show everyone why he gets paid so much damn money, prove to everyone he is elite, and he did just that. He drove down the field, got a touchdown to take the lead, and the Ravens were about to be back in the drivers seat of the division.
Too bad there was still too much time left on the clock, Big Ben and the boys had plans of winning this ball game still, and on the other side it was time for the Ravens defense to win this team one more football game. They've done it all year and have looked great up until the last couple drives of this game so shouldn't be a problem whatsoever. One side could only be victorious though, the beauty of the game, one side a winner, the other forgotten. How nieve we were to think the game would end so simply, obviously Big Ben connecting on 7 straight passes, and the touchdown being a 4 yarder to Antonio Brown who had to stretch across the goaline for the win with just seconds on the clock is the totally illogical situation that'd end up occurring. It was literally scripted, had to be, the last 15 minutes of this ball game were absurd. The Steelers were down by 10 with 13 minutes left, they take a lead, blow it, and score another touchdown to win the game on a perfect drive as time basically expired. NFL is writing fairly tale story endings on a week to week basis, if you're missing these games I honestly feel bad for you because it's better than any of this scripted crap on TV. Looks like Santa delivered a great gift to people of Pittsburgh last night, a helluva win over a division rival, and another AFC North division championship.