They say, “the biggest stars shine under the brightest lights.” Although standing at just five foot-ten inches, Antonio Brown came up huge, extending his arm across the goal line to defeat the Baltimore Ravens on Christmas day. Brown not only won the game, but clinched the division for the Steelers with “The Inch that Saved Christmas.” The importance of this game could not have been stressed enough. The match-up was in essence the championship game for the AFC North. A number of Steelers stepped up when they needed to in order to give Brown the opportunity to make the game-winning play.
Pittsburgh Steelers Week 16 Takeaways
Initially, there was a feeling of fear. Brown caught the ball a yard short, and with no timeouts and only nine seconds left, the game would be over. However, every extra rep in the gym gave Antonio Brown just enough strength to reach across the goal line. Even with three Ravens defenders attempting to keep him out, Brown was able to power through. The adrenaline rush that followed cannot be described in words. It is safe to say that this was a common feeling amongst most Steelers fans.
This win will certainly be remembered with the likes of last year’s victory over Cincinnati in the Wild Card round. Besides Brown’s heroics, the biggest contributors to the Steelers division-clinching win were (yet again) Le’Veon Bell, a solid performance from Eli Rogers and more late-game mastery from Ben Roethlisberger.
Le’Veon Bell Furthers Case for MVP
If you have not yet figured it out, Le’Veon Bell is pretty good at football. Bell averaged over six yards per carry and exposed the Ravens defense late in the game. Bell’s ability to jump-start the Steelers offense cannot be overlooked. Also, Bell is less than 300 yards behind Ezekiel Elliott for the league lead in rushing yards. This is even more impressive considering Bell missed the first three games of the season due to suspension. If there was any doubt before Sunday, there should not be any now. Le’Veon Bell should be in the discussion for MVP.
Eli Rogers Steps Up As Number Two Receiver
The conversation on offense has been about who would step up as the number-two receiver behind Antonio Brown. This question was answered on Sunday, as Eli Rogers picked up 84 yards on four receptions in the Steelers win. Rogers made a few crucial catches, including a full extension catch for 20 yards on the final drive on a high pass from Ben Roethlisberger. With Sammie Coates absent due to injury and Martavis Bryant suspended, Rogers has emerged as the number-two wideout. His production will be key moving forward to add depth to the passing game.
Ben Roethlisberger Shines Late Yet Again
When Ben Roethlisberger opened the second half by throwing a bad interception, many thought the quarterback may be over the hill. Ben immediately proved them wrong, leading the Steelers to 21 points in the fourth quarter and another come-from-behind win. This has been a trend in Ben’s career. The clutch gene has always been present, yet many still doubt his ability to effectively quarterback the offense. With Ben at the helm, no other team in the NFL is more equipped to make a Super Bowl run. Ben is clutch, simple as that.
With the number-three seed in the AFC locked up, next week is of no importance. The hopeless Browns should not be given an opportunity to effect Pittsburgh’s playoff run. The fear of becoming rusty is definitely a factor, but the Steelers first two potential opponents– the Dolphins and Raiders– have both lost their quarterbacks in recent weeks. There is no need to risk injury in a useless game. Besides, Pittsburgh’s backups will probably be okay against the Browns, anyway.