2022 Steelers Season Recall: Playoff hopes alive with Pickett’s second game-winning drive

Steel City Underground presents our 2022 Steelers Recall: a look back at Pittsburgh Steelers games and storylines from last season.

Heading into Week 17 of the 2022 regular season, with two games to go the Pittsburgh Steelers were riding the tide of a last-minute victory over the Las Vegas Raiders in a primetime Christmas Eve clash one week earlier.

Now they were traveling to Baltimore to face the only team which had beaten them during their five-game turnaround: the Ravens. Four-of-five in those last games, Pittsburgh found themselves still in playoff contention.

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In order to keep those hopes alive, they’d have to win on the road against their longtime division rival, in a game that was flexed to be another primetime encounter. With optimism from defeating the Raiders, a healthy Kenny Pickett showed he was coming of age.

Pickett’s numbers would suggest otherwise, completing 15-of-27 passes in a game that resembled the usual tight slugfest between the two franchises. The Steelers put up 198 rushing yards on the Ravens’ third-ranked run defense, as Najee Harris gained 111 yards on 22 carries. Harris also added two catches for 12 yards, including the critical game-winner.

Similarly, the Steelers would be all-in on preventing the Ravens from running the ball. After allowing 215 rushing yards in their first meeting with the Ravens this year, the Steelers held them to only 120 yards on the ground after “selling out” to stop Baltimore’s run game. Pittsburgh kept QB Tyler Huntley from gaining more than 24 yards with his legs on scrambles, as well. The longest run the Steelers allowed was a 22-yarder by Dobbins.

Pittsburgh “sold out” using different schemes which often involved four defensive linemen and four linebackers to put eight players in the box. This saw Montravius Adams (56%) and rookies DeMarvin Leal (52%) and Mark Robinson (50%) all play a season-high amount of snaps. Robert Spillane also played a full game, not missing a single down. He would lead the team with nine combined tackles while Robinson added seven.

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The Steelers would take the lead first on a first quarter field goal with the Ravens matching as the second quarter was underway. Both teams would take 15 plays to position their respective kickers into their tries.

The Ravens would take a 10-3 advantage before halftime on a baffling decision by the referees. Cameron Heyward, the AFC’s reigning Defensive Player of the Week coming into this game, was caught in a pile of players as the Ravens attempted to position themselves for a field goal before the end of the half. Heyward attempted to get off of the pile, but was pulled down – more than once – and one of the referees decided to throw a flag on him.

The initial result would’ve resulted in at worst three points, but was changed to a 1st-and-goal from the Steelers seven yard line, giving Baltimore a new set of downs. The clock resumed and with 11 ticks left, the Ravens would score a touchdown. Baltimore increased their lead after half, to 13-3, on a third quarter Justin Tucker 51-yard field goal conversion. The kick was once again, matched by the Steelers side when Chris Boswell converted on his own 51-yarder.

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Boswell’s leg would be relied upon again in the fourth quarter, closing the Raven’s lead to 13-9 before Pickett orchestrated a game-winning drive in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. This time, Pickett would operate an 11-play, 80-yard drive while completing 5 of 6 passes for 64 yards, capping it off with a ten-yard toss to RB Najee Harris for the go ahead touchdown.

The previous week against Las Vegas, Pickett went 5 of 7 for 52 yards, leading a 10-play, 76-yard drive which ended with a touchdown pass to fellow rookie WR George Pickens with under one minute left in the game. That drive was good for a 132.14 quarterback rating. This time Pickett scores a cool 150.69 rating.

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It was Minkah Fitzpatrick who came up with the big highlight play in the final quarter of the game, however. With 56 seconds left in the game, Chris Boswell, who’d “doinked” the upright while missing one field goal in the game, kicked the ball off to the Ravens and put it in the end zone for a touchback. Following a successful first down conversion between Huntley and tight end Mark Andrews to get to the Baltimore 38-yard line on the fourth play of the drive, Huntley spiked the ball dead to stop the clock on 1st and 10 to stop the clock.

With zero timeouts left, Huntley looked deep over the middle to connect with Demarcus Robinson but Fitzpatrick grabbed the ball for the interception.

The Steelers would win their eighth game of the season, their third in a row (which is also five of their last six) by a margin of 16-13.

As for John Harbaugh‘s group, they would succumb to their third loss in their last six after losing the crucial matchup. This setup the 8-8 Steelers to play the 7-9 Cleveland Browns in a Week 18 finale at Acrisure Stadium. A Steelers victory over the Browns, with help from the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots, could net them the final wild-card spot.

Stay tuned for our final 2022 Season Recall column next week!

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