Pittsburgh A most fitting comeback for Ben Roethlisberger.
The Steelers quarterback connected on a 58-yard pass to rookie Antonio Brown with less than two minutes to go that ended any ideas the Ravens had of finally winning a playoff game against their division rivals.
Four plays later in the rough-and-tumble matchup, Rashard Mendenhall scored from two yards out with 1:33 left to lift the Steelers to a 31-24 victory over the error-prone Ravens in Saturday’s AFC divisional playoff game.
Just before his biggest pass of the season, Roethlisberger said he told offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, “Let’s send him. Let’s just chuck it deep. If they pick it, it will be a pick way down there, just as good as a punt. ... I just throw it as far as I can.’”
He did. Brown made the biggest catch of his life, and the Steelers (13-4) are a victory away from their third Super Bowl in six seasons. The Steelers play the winner of today’s game between the New York Jets and New England Patriots.
Roethlisberger took his shots early from the Ravens’ defense but threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns before his big pass on third-and-19.
“He may not be Brady or all those other guys, but when I see him in the huddle, I know we’ve got a chance to win,” said Hines Ward, who caught a TD pass. “He’s a proven winner. And history shows he’s a proven winner against Baltimore.”
The third meeting this season between these AFC North rivals had the usual skirmishes but also was filled with penalties and turnovers.
It’s been a rugged season for the Steelers’ quarterback. His life and reputation was in tatters 10 months ago following sexual assault allegations that weren’t prosecuted. He was suspended for the first four games of the season, and helped his team finish with 12 victories and a first-round bye.
While the Steelers trailed by two TDs at the half, it was the Ravens who fell apart in the in the second half as the team they love to beat most came back to knock them out of the postseason. The Steelers are 9-0 against division teams in the postseason.
Roethlisberger went deep down the depth chart to find Brown, only the eighth leading receiver for Pittsburgh.
“It was kind of amazing,” Brown said. “It kind of stuck to my shoulder.”