Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett isn't to the point in which he's good for all four quarters. But he has been good in the clutch. The Cincinnati Bengals appreciate that.
At the end of a rough game, Pickett finally came alive to drive the Steelers to their first touchdown of the night. Pickett masterfully escaped a pass rush, kept his balance and found Najee Harris for a 10-yard touchdown with 56 seconds left.
The Steelers held on to win 16-13, and kept their playoff hopes alive entering the final week of the regular season.
Pickett has a long way to go in his development, but drives like that one on the road against the Ravens and last week's game-winner against the Las Vegas Raiders says a lot about his confidence. Being able to put together those drives are a valuable trait in a quarterback and Pickett is showing he has it.
Had the Ravens won, it would have ensured that next week's game against the Cincinnati Bengals would be for the AFC North title. It still could be, but the Bengals can clinch the division with a win Monday night against the Buffalo Bills.
The Steelers are 8-8, somehow, in what was supposed to be a down season. And they're seeing some positive moments from their rookie quarterback.
Steelers-Ravens play another physical game
The Steelers and Ravens have played the same game for what seems like 20 years. Points are hard to come by. It gets chippy. The hitting seems ramped up. It's the same no matter if the game is in Pittsburgh or Baltimore. It's the NFL's version of "Edge of Tomorrow."
Sunday night's game started like any one that involved Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger years ago. There was hard hitting and little scoring. When Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward got a little too heated after a third-and-16 play, it cost the Steelers dearly. Heyward shoved a Ravens lineman while on the pile and got a 15-yard penalty for it. It was a questionable call. Instead of going for a field goal, the Ravens got a gift first down. They turned that into a touchdown, the first of the game, to rookie tight end Isaiah Likely on a 7-yard catch right before halftime.
In a game that was low scoring and close, those four extra points the Ravens got after the Heyward penalty were big. The Steelers had to chase that most of the game.
The game was a grind after halftime, too. There were no touchdowns in the third quarter. The Ravens increased their lead to 13-3 with a Justin Tucker field goal, but the Steelers came back with a field goal of their own.
The Ravens led 13-6 going into the fourth quarter, and it seemed either offense could grab the win with just one touchdown drive.
Game stays tight into 4th quarter
The Steelers put together a good drive in the fourth quarter, mostly with punishing runs, but it stalled and they settled for another field goal. The Ravens' defense did a great job keeping the Steelers out of the end zone. At that point four of their five possessions, not counting a kneel-down at the end of the half, got into Ravens territory but all of them resulted in field-goal attempts. One was a miss by Chris Boswell.
The Ravens' defense was doing all it could but the offense couldn't put the game away. A great return to the Pittsburgh 40-yard line after the Steelers cut Baltimore's lead to 13-9 was wasted when the offense went three-and-out and punted. The Ravens miss injured Lamar Jackson. Tyler Huntley has not played well in his place.
It was clear for most of the fourth quarter that the Ravens' defense was probably going to have to make 13 points from the offense hold up. Then the Steelers started driving. A couple nice throws by Pickett got the Steelers deep into Ravens territory. A quarterback sneak on third down picked up a first down at the 12-yard line with a little more than a minute to go. Then Pickett made a fantastic play to hit Harris for a touchdown and the lead.
The Ravens had a shot to get into field-goal range for Tucker, but nothing was coming for the offense. Huntley threw a game-clinching interception with 13 seconds left.
The Steelers weren't universally praised for their first-round draft selection of Pickett. There were questions about his upside. He's far from a finished product, but the Steelers know already that no moment is too big for him.