Steelers outlast Packers on Boswell’s 53-yard FG
PITTSBURGH — The last time the Green Bay Packers came to Heinz Field to face the Pittsburgh Steelers, quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger hooked up in a duel for the ages.
No one expected anything like that Sunday night, particularly with backup Brett Hundley playing for Rodgers, who is sidelined because of a broken clavicle.
However, the game went down to the final play again, and this time Chris Boswell’s 53-yard field goal with no time left gave the Steelers a 31-28 win.
“We persevered in the face of adversity,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said. “We made the necessary plays. We overcame adversity, big plays by them, turnovers by us and all of those things. We didn’t blink. We stayed together and made the necessary plays to win.”
Hundley, the third-year injury replacement, gave Roethlisberger and the Steelers the full Rodgers treatment with touchdown passes of 39, 54 and 55 yards, but the old veteran Roethlisberger found his go-to receiver, Antonio Brown, in the late going to set up Boswell’s game-winning kick.
Pittsburgh (9-2) won its sixth consecutive game while Green Bay (5-6) lost its second in a row.
“You have an opportunity each week,” said Hundley, who completed 17 of 26 passes for 245 yards and a 134.3 passer rating. “I didn’t like my performance last week, and I’ll try to the best of my ability to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. I just want to give this team an opportunity to win, and I feel like we were really close.”
The duel started early and picked up with Hundley’s 55-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams on the Packers’ first possession of the second half. The play gave the Packers a 21-14 lead, but Roethlisberger tied the game late in the third quarter with a 1-yard fade pass to Brown that tied score at 21.
The game was setting up for a finish similar to the epic 2009 game in which Roethlisberger and Rodgers combined for 886 passing yards in a 37-36 Steelers win on the last play of the game.
Almost eight years later, the teams went into the fourth quarter tied at 21 before Roethlisberger’s 33-yard touchdown pass to Brown gave the Steelers their first lead at 28-21 with 8:42 left.
Hundley didn’t back down. He guided the Packers to the tying touchdown on a 12-play, 77-yard drive. Jamaal Williams scored on a 4-yard run with 2:02 remaining.
The teams exchanged punts, and the Steelers took possession at their 30-yard with 17 seconds left.
Roethlisberger threw 23 yards to Brown, who made a spectacular toe-tapping catch. Another pass to Brown, for 14 yards, moved the Steelers into field-goal range. Boswell kicked his 53-yarder with no time left to pull out a Steelers win on the last play once again.
The key play was Brown’s catch at the Steelers’ sideline. Two officials looked at each other in hesitation before calling it a catch. The play then went to the replay booth.
“I’ve been looking at A.B. for a long time,” Tomlin said of whether he had doubts about Brown getting his feet down. “It’s A.B.”
Was Tomlin confident it was a catch?
“That will be the story I tell,” he said.
“With all due respect,” Roethlisberger said, “not surprised or amazed. It’s what he does. He’s just special.”
Roethlisberger posted a 106.8 passer rating by completing 33 of 45 passes for 351 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions.
Brown, the NFL’s leading receiver, caught 10 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Le’Veon Bell, the NFL’s leading rusher, gained 95 yards on 20 carries. He also had 12 catches for 88 yards.
The Steelers took the opening kickoff and drove 59 yards in 12 plays to score the game’s first touchdown. Roethlisberger’s 1-yard shovel pass to tight end Xavier Grimble on fourth-and-goal gave the Steelers a 6-0 lead. Boswell’s extra-point attempt sailed wide.
The Packers also scored on their first possession, only Mason Crosby made his extra point for a 7-6 lead. Hundley threw the 39-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb, who was running free down the left sideline. Right cornerback Artie Burns cost the Steelers a turnover on the previous play when a strip-sack by Stephon Tuitt was negated by his hands-to-the-face penalty.
The Packers added to their lead with another first-quarter touchdown. A 54-yard screen pass to rookie Williams was set up by a Damarious Randall interception. The touchdown by Williams was aided by the poor angle taken by safety Sean Davis after Hundley caught the Steelers in a blitz. The Packers grabbed a 14-6 lead with 1:22 left in the opening quarter.
The Steelers tied the score in the middle of the second quarter on Roethlisberger’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Martavis Bryant, who ran past cornerback Josh Hawkins and caught the ball in the back corner of the end zone. Roethlisberger passed to Brown for the two-point conversion to forge a tie with 7:20 left in the half.
NOTES: Packers CB Kevin King returned from a shoulder injury to play in the second half. ... Steelers DE Cameron Heyward had two sacks to increase his team-high total to nine. The only Steelers 3-4 defensive end to record double-digit sacks was Keith Willis with 14 in 1983 and 12 in 1986. ... The Packers made OLB Clay Matthews inactive because of a groin injury. It was the first game Matthews missed this season. Kyler Fackrell started in his place, while Quinton Dial started at nose tackle for the injured Kenny Clark. ... Martavis Bryant replaced injured rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster on the Steelers’ kickoff-return team and returned the opening kickoff 38 yards, the team long for the season by 13 yards. ... The Steelers hadn’t allowed a touchdown on an opening drive in 27 regular-season games before the Packers scored on their first possession.