BALTIMORE – Ben Roethlisberger delayed his retirement for a few hours and probably longer, guiding Pittsburgh to a 16-13 overtime win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday that left the Steelers on the verge of an improbable playoff berth.
Chris Boswell made a 36-yard field goal with 1:56 remaining to win the game for the Steelers, who will now make the postseason as long as Sunday night’s Chargers-Raiders game doesn’t end in a tie. Roethlisberger set up the winning kick when he completed a 10-yard pass over the middle to Ray-Ray McCloud on fourth-and-8 from the Baltimore 41.
The Steelers (9-7-1) and Ravens (8-9) would have both been eliminated if this game had ended in a tie.
After the winning field goal, Roethlisberger held up his right fist in celebration and went slowly to the middle of the field to commiserate with Ravens linebacker Justin Houston.
Both Baltimore and Pittsburgh had slim playoff hopes coming in. The Steelers needed to win and have Indianapolis lose to Jacksonville to have any chance of extending Roethlisberger’s career with a postseason appearance. The Ravens needed a win, a loss by the Colts – and losses by the Dolphins and Chargers later in the day.
The most unlikely part of those scenarios – Indianapolis losing to lowly Jacksonville – actually happened. The crowd in Baltimore, which included plenty of towel-waving Pittsburgh fans, roared its approval when highlights of that game were shown.
Latavius Murray put the Ravens ahead 10-3 with a 46-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, but Baltimore lost its sixth straight game to end the season. Five of the losses in that skid were by three points or fewer.
The Ravens were without star quarterback Lamar Jackson, who missed a fourth straight game with an ankle injury.
Roethlisberger admitted before last week’s home game against Cleveland that all signs pointed to retirement after this season. With one more home game, Pittsburgh fans turned that matchup against the Cleveland Browns into a memorable celebration of his career.
It looked as if this would be it for Roethlisberger when Baltimore led 10-6 and was driving in the fourth quarter, but Tyler Huntley threw an interception in the end zone.
The 39-year-old Roethlisberger threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Chase Claypool with 2:54 remaining to give Pittsburgh a 13-10 lead. Justin Tucker tied it with a 46-yard field goal.
T.J. Watt of the Steelers tied Michael Strahan’s single-season record of 22 1/2 sacks, reaching that milestone late in the second quarter. That was the biggest highlight of a first half that didn’t really live up to the standards of past Ravens-Steelers clashes.
After halftime, however, it became clear that Indianapolis was in real danger of losing, and suddenly the stakes in Baltimore went up. Pittsburgh kicked a field goal on fourth-and-2 to make it 10-6 in the third. Then Cameron Sutton of the Steelers intercepted Huntley in the end zone in a huge missed opportunity for the Ravens.
Pittsburgh squandered a chance of its own in the first quarter, recovering a fumble by Huntley at the Baltimore 39 but managing only a field goal. A false start on running back Benny Snell on fourth-and-1 forced the Steelers to settle for three points.
Watt’s sack helped force the Ravens to kick a field goal in the final seconds of the second.
Injuries: WR Diontae Johnson (ribs) and RB Najee Harris (elbow) were injured but returned. CB Arthur Maulet was evaluated for a concussion. ... RB Devonta Freeman went out with a rib injury, and receiver Tylan Wallace hurt his thigh on an unsuccessful fake punt. LB Tyus Bowser injured his ankle in the fourth.
Up next: The Steelers wait to find out if they make playoffs.
The Ravens head into the offseason.