Ben Roethlisberger delayed his retirement for a few hours and probably longer, guiding Pittsburgh to a 16-13 overtime win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday that left the Steelers on the verge of an improbable playoff berth.
Chris Boswell made a 36-yard field goal with 1:56 remaining to win the game for the Steelers, who will now make the postseason as long as Sunday night’s Chargers-Raiders game doesn’t end in a tie. Roethlisberger set up the winning kick when he completed a 10-yard pass over the middle to Ray-Ray McCloud on fourth-and-8 from the Baltimore 41.
The Steelers (9-7-1) and Ravens (8-9) would have both been eliminated if this game had ended in a tie.
After the winning field goal, Roethlisberger held up his right fist in celebration and went slowly to the middle of the field to commiserate with Ravens linebacker Justin Houston.
Both Baltimore and Pittsburgh had slim playoff hopes coming in. The Steelers needed to win and have Indianapolis lose to Jacksonville to have any chance of extending Roethlisberger’s career with a postseason appearance. The Ravens needed a win, a loss by the Colts — and losses by the Dolphins and Chargers later in the day.
The most unlikely part of those scenarios — Indianapolis losing to lowly Jacksonville — actually happened. The crowd in Baltimore, which included plenty of towel-waving Pittsburgh fans, roared its approval when highlights of that game were shown.
Roethlisberger admitted before last week’s home game against Cleveland that all signs pointed to retirement after this season.
The Ravens were without star quarterback Lamar Jackson, who missed a fourth straight game with an ankle injury.
Colts fall to Jaguars with playoff berth on the line
The Indianapolis Colts badly botched a chance to secure an AFC wild-card spot by losing at Jacksonville 26-11 Sunday in the “clown game,” their seventh consecutive road loss to the Jaguars.
NFL rushing champion Jonathan Taylor was held to 77 yards, Carson Wentz turned the ball over twice — leading to 10 points — and Indy (9-8) did little to stop the woeful Jaguars (3-14).
The Colts looked more like the ones who should have been decked out in giant bow ties, face paint and colorful wigs and suspenders.
With a playoff berth on the line, Indianapolis was a no-show on an 80-degree day in Jacksonville.
The 15-point outcome could have been a bigger blowout had the Jags scored touchdowns instead of settling for two chip-shot field goals from inside the 5-yard line. Nonetheless, Jacksonville experienced breathing room in a game for the first time all season.
And they still managed to lock up the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft for the second straight year because Detroit stunned Green Bay.
The Colts still could land a playoff spot despite the loss, but they needed Baltimore to beat Pittsburgh, Las Vegas to defeat the Los Angeles Chargers and New England to knock off Miami. The Ravens and Steelers went to overtime.
It’s an unlikely trio of events. Indy is more likely to end the season on a two-game skid when one victory would have put it in the postseason.
Titans defeat Texans to claim AFC’s No. 1 seed
Ryan Tannehill tied a career-high with four touchdown passes to help the Tennessee Titans clinch the top seed in the AFC with a 28-25 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday.
The 12-5 Titans, who secured their second straight AFC South title last week, have the No. 1 seed in the AFC for the third time since leaving Houston in 1997 and first since 2008. They also have a first-round bye.
Tannehill threw three touchdown passes in the second quarter to put the Titans up 21-0 at halftime.
But the Texans (4-13) came alive in the second half, scoring 18 unanswered points to get within 3 before Julio Jones caught his first touchdown pass of the season on a 3-yard grab that made it 28-18 with about seven minutes remaining.
Houston cut the lead to 3 again when Danny Amendola’s second touchdown reception of the game made it 28-25 with 4 1/2 minutes to go. Tennessee got a first down on third-and-2 with about three minutes left and ran out the clock to secure the victory.