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Fourth-quarter magic

Posted Jan 29, 2018

Comebacks a highlight of 2017 season.

The Steelers won 13 games in 2017, but they didn’t always do it the easy way.

On three occasions, they had to rally from fourth-quarter deficits and beat the clock as well as the opponent.

Following is a look back at a few of 2017’s it’s-never-over-utill-it’s-over moments:

Nov. 12, at Indianapolis: The Steelers trailed 17-9 entering the fourth quarter but outscored their hosts 11-0 in the final 15 minutes and ultimately won it on Chris Boswell’s 33-yard field goal as time expired in regulation.

The comeback began with an interception by linebacker Ryan Shazier on third-and-8 from the Colts’ 13-yard line with 12:59 left in the fourth quarter. The Steelers took over at the Indianapolis 10 and were in the end zone three plays later on a 7-yard pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to tight end Vance McDonald. Next came the two-point conversion that tied the game at 17-17, a pass from Roethlisberger to wide receiver Martavis Bryant.

The drive that won the game began at the Steelers’ 15 with 3:10 remaining in the fourth quarter. Third downs were converted on a 2-yard pass from Roethlisberger to wide receiver Eli Rogers (on third-and-2), and a 19-yard catch-and-run connection from Roethlisberger to wide receiver Martavis Bryant (on third-and-4) on the way to Boswell’s game-winning kick.

Dec. 4, at Cincinnati: The Steelers outscored the Bengals 13-0 in the fourth quarter on their way to a 23-20 victory at Paul Brown Stadium.

The tying touchdown was as critical and as memorable as anything that occurred in the final 15 minutes. Wide receiver Antonio Brown hauled in a 6-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger with 3:51 left in the fourth quarter and held on despite absorbing a vicious hit from Bengals safety George Iloka (who earned a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness for his trouble).

The Steelers kicked off from the 50 following the penalty and the Bengals took over at the Cincinnati 12. The defense forced a three-and-out that was completed by linebacker Bud Dupree’s sack of quarterback Andy Dalton on third-and-2 from the Bengals’ 20. That got the ball back for the Steelers at the Pittsburgh 41 with 2:42 left in the fourth quarter.

Roethlisberger and Boswell, who connected from 38 yards away on the last play of regulation,  took it from there and saw to it that overtime wouldn’t be required.

Dec. 10, Baltimore: This time it was a 19-point fourth quarter that ultimately allowed the Steelers to rally from 31-20 and 38-29 deficits and pull out a 39-38 triumph.

The biggest of the big plays was a Roethlisberger pass to Brown at a critical juncture; isn’t that always the case against the Ravens? This time it was a 34-yard hookup to the Baltimore 30 on third-and-4 from the Steelers’ 36 with 1:08 left in regulation, one that positioned the Steelers to kick the game-winning field goal. The Steelers had converted their previous third down on what became the game-winning possession on a 16-yard pass from Roethlisberger to tight end Jesse James on third-and-13 from the Steelers’ 14

On the previous series, running back Le’Veon Bell had turned a third-and-1 from the Ravens’ 11 into an 11-yard touchdown run that helped the Steelers close to within 38-36.

Nov. 26, Green Bay: This one isn’t an official four-quarter comeback, as it was the Packers who rallied from 28-21 down to tie the Steelers at 28-28. But the Steelers’ ability to move the ball 35 yards in 17 seconds and kick another last-play field goal for the win _ this one from 53 yards away as regulation time expired _ was still memorable.

The play of the game-winning drive was the first one, a 23-yard pass from Roethlisberger that Brown somehow caught along the sideline. After further review, it’s still hard to fathom how Brown caught the ball and stayed in bounds.