BALTIMORE – A game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens usually features hard hits, flying helmets and a pivotal play in the final minutes.
The clash between these AFC North rivals on Thursday night had all that – and so much more.
A coach on the field during a kick return, two touchdowns erased by replay and an inexplicable botched field goal were among the highlights and lowlights in Baltimore’s 22-20 Thanksgiving victory.
Justin Tucker kicked five field goals, and Baltimore snuffed a conversion pass with 1:03 left to avenge last month’s loss to their division rivals.
After Pittsburgh scored on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Jerricho Cotchery to make it 22-20, Roethlisberger’s 2-point conversion pass slipped through the hands of Emmanuel Sanders, who was screened by Chykie Brown.
“Ben gave me a good ball,” Sanders said. “It hit my hands, and I’ve got to make the play. It’s not on him. It’s on me.”
The ensuing onside kick didn’t travel the required 10 yards, and Baltimore ran out the clock.
The victory provided the Ravens (6-6) with their first winning streak since September and pushed the defending Super Bowl champions ahead of the Steelers (5-7) and four other teams in the race for the AFC’s final wild-card spot.
Pittsburgh appeared to score twice in the closing minutes, but on each occasion the touchdown was overturned by a replay. On the first one, tight end Heath Miller was ruled down inside the 1. On the second, running back Le’Veon Bell lost his helmet on a crushing tackle by Jimmy Smith and the ball was ruled dead just short of the goal line.
Two plays later, Roethlisberger hit a wide-open Cotchery on fourth down.
In the third quarter, after the Steelers scored their first touchdown, Jacoby Jones took the ensuing kickoff 73 yards to the Pittsburgh 27, setting up a 38-yard field goal that made it 16-7. Jones sprinted down the left side and nearly ran into Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who stepped out of the way at the last second.
Pittsburgh’s third drive ended with a curious, aborted field-goal try. Shaun Suisham was poised to kick a 50-yarder, but his approach began well before the snap and he didn’t follow through. Holder Mat McBriar flipped an impromptu lateral to Suisham, who was tackled for a 12-yard loss.