PITTSBURGH — It takes all 60 minutes to win an NFL game, and that is especially true when the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers get together, as the two AFC North rivals are notorious for playing games that come right down to the wire.
That was the case on Sunday, as the Steelers got two huge situational plays to help secure a 20-19 victory.
The Steelers scored to make it 19-13 with under two minutes to play. To secure the lead, they needed a 2-point conversion to make it a seven-point cushion. They got it, with Ben Roethlisberger finding rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth on the left boundary of the end zone for a score.
The Steelers’ defense then had a seven-point lead to protect. They were unable to do so, but after the Ravens scored with 12 seconds left, they decided to go for two and the win instead of playing for a tie and overtime.
“We score and then you sit there and wait for your defense to do what they did,” Roethlisberger said. “It gets scary as they get closer. They they go for two and you’re thinking about Friday’s practice, where we go seven shots every (week).”
The Steelers run seven shots — seven plays from the 2-yard line — every day in training camp and at least once a week during the regular season. It is an integral part of their training regiment, and head coach Mike Tomlin said that’s an intentional choice.
“Those moments, it gets thick,” he explained. “We don’t need to be discovering ourselves and figuring out what we need to run in those moments, and so we pay respect to those moments with how we practice. When we make calls, everybody can anticipate the call, and they can communicate and do the things that you need them to do when that air gets thick. The only way to do that is you repeat, you repeat, you rep, you rep, and that’s the investment that we have in that area to feel for those moments.”
Sunday, that investment paid off, as the Steelers’ defense got the stop, with T.J. Watt forcing Lamar Jackson into an awkward throw and Mark Andrews unable to come up with the catch.
It was a fingertip attempt that came only inches from being completed, and that’s why the Steelers take those moments so seriously throughout the year.