The Pittsburgh Steelers are not out of the playoff chase, thanks to a 38-31 victory over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
The Steelers withstood the Packers’ last throw into the end zone following a 1-yard touchdown run by Le’Veon Bell with 1:28 left.
“A very hard fought game,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said after the game. “I’ve got a lot of respect for this football team and what was at stake for both sides. Tough environment to come in and do the job. I compliment our football team on their mettle, their singular focus in the midst of a lot of adversity, a good football team, a hostile crowd, and all of those things.”
The Steelers recovered a Matt Flynn fumble at the Packers 17 and scored five plays later, leaving time on the clock for a Packers game-tying drive.
But Tomlin wasn’t worried about the clock.
“I am not into that,” he said. “We had the opportunity to put the ball in the end zone. In weather conditions like that anything can happen. The snapper could roll the ball back, the ball could go through the snappers hands, etc. Given the opportunity to score, we’re going to score. We felt comfortable putting our defense on the field and winning.”
Green Bay got to the 1, but after a Packers penalty the game ended when Flynn’s pass to Jarrett Boykin sailed incomplete.
“We are battled tested, but we did it to ourselves,” said Tomlin. “There is only one way to respond to the situation that we are in, it’s either that or fold the tents up. We are not into that. It’s required. It’s appreciated, but it’s required.”
Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes.
Bell finished with 26 carries for 124 yards. He fumbled on his own two-yard line giving the Packers a first-and-goal.
But the Packers ensuing field goal attempt was blocked. Steelers safety Ryan Clark recovered the ball and attempted to lateral it to a teammate. The ball ended up loose on the ground and Steelers lineman Ziggy Hood then batted the ball out of bounds.
The refs flagged Hood for an illegal bat, ruling the Steelers never controlled the ball after the block and that it never crossed the line of scrimmage of the Steelers 5.
One play later, Eddie Lacy scored to give the Packers a 21-17 lead.
“They screwed it up in my opinion but I will wait to hear judgment from those that evaluate performances and so forth,” Tomlin said when asked about the block. “We got penalized on the play for batting, but I thought we had possession of the ball prior to batting. It would have been our possession. We should have maintained possession of the ball, but it didn’t unfold that way. They ruled that we didn’t have possession of the ball so that put the batting of the football back into their possession. I wanted to challenge it but they said it was not a challengeable play.”
The Steelers scored 14 points in 18 seconds after the ilegall batting call.
“I was angry,” said Tomlin.
The Steelers slim playoff hopes remain alive following the win, and the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins losses on Sunday.
“Our mentality hasn’t changed,” said Tomlin. “We can only control what it is that we can control. To win the games that are presented to us, the challenge of the week. We hadn’t done enough of that to this point in the season that is why we are in this position. We better stay singularly focused on that.”