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From the Press Room: Steelers at Ravens

Not blinking: It's something Coach Mike Tomlin preaches often.

The importance of not blinking in the face of adversity.

And on Sunday night, his team never blinked.

Down 13-9 against the Ravens, with just 4:16 to play in the game, they showed what they were made of when quarterback Kenny Pickett engineered a game-winning drive and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick sealed the win with an interception.

"Really proud of those guys in that locker room," said Tomlin. "Another challenging week, hostile environment, primetime television on the road. Those guys didn't blink.

"We obviously fell short of perfection in a lot of areas, the penalties and things. But it's an emotional game, an emotional environment. I thought we got a hold of ourselves at the half and had some real frank conversations and had the type of focus that was needed to finish the game out and for that, I'm thankful."

Pickett took the Steelers on an 11-play, 80-yard drive, in 3:20 that culminated in a 10-yard touchdown pass to Najee Harris. He showed veteran poise, with no panic at all.

"Can't say enough about our young QB," said Tomlin. "He smiles in the face of it. He's always ready to be that guy in the moments that we need him to be that guy. And it's just good to see the young guy."

Tomlin said that disposition is something he saw in Pickett when he played at the University of Pittsburgh, having the advantage of seeing him on a regular basis at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex where both teams practice.

"I just think that we've benefited so much from close proximity and evaluation process," said Tomlin. "I don't think none of us are surprised by what he does from an intangible standpoint, and the proximity to him at Pitt really kind of gave us that comfort."

Harris also showed veteran poise, rushing for 111 yards on 22 carries and two receptions for 12 yards.

"Najee wants it," said Tomlin. "He wants to be the focal point. He likes the tough circumstances and it's just good to have young people that that are running to it as opposed to from it. And we got some young people that run to the action, and that's a good thing."

Game-winner: Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett is making last-minute, game-winning drives enough of a habit that he's now able to compare and contrast.

On Christmas Eve it was a 10-play, 76-yard march in 2:09 that beat the Raiders on a 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver George Pickens with 46 seconds remaining at Acrisure Stadium.

On Sunday night at M&T Bank Stadium, Pickett directed an 11-play, 80-yard possession in 3:20 that ended with an improvised, 10-yard touchdown pass to running back Najee Harris with 56 seconds to play in what became a 16-13 outlasting of the Ravens.

"It's similar but definitely tougher on the road," Pickett observed. "Communication and you're just kind of a step behind, just because of the noise and dealing with that and not being able to hear each other. But I think we had a great prep all week, the coaches put us this situation a lot with crowd noise at practice.

"All those extra reps, in-game reps and practice reps really came through for us here."

Pickett initially motioned Harris out of the backfield on third-and-8 from the Ravens' 10-yard line with 1:02 left in the fourth quarter.

Harris drifted into the left flat and then headed down the sideline while Pickett was in the process of scrambling left to elude defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.

Pickett ultimately found Harris over linebacker Roquan Smith, who had his back turned to Pickett while chasing Harris into the end zone.

"It was just kind of extend the play a little bit," Pickett explained. "I wanted to keep my eyes downfield and give one of our guys a shot. We had a real similar play earlier to Najee like that, kind of extending and he was down the left side (in the first quarter).

"We didn't hit it but I'm real happy we got it when it counted."

Pickett called his 28-yard completion to wide receiver Steven Sims to the Ravens' 22 just before the two-minute warning the "biggest play of the drive besides the touchdown."

Sims beat cornerback Kyle Hamilton out of the slot and then "bent" (Pickett's description) a seam route in front of safety Chuck Clark.

"If he didn't bend, it wouldn't have worked out well," Pickett maintained. "That was one of those timing and trust things that he was going to bend in front of that safety and he made a hell of a catch and it was a huge play for us."

Pickett likened the calm and expectation he sensed from the huddle during the drive against the Ravens to what he'd experienced in the same situation against the Raiders.

"It's the same every time," he insisted. "Everyone's gotta do their job and I gotta find a way to get guys the ball and get in the end zone.

"It's a team effort, a group effort."

Stepping up: When he was needed the most, running back Najee Harris stepped up.

Harris, who led the way for a strong Steelers ground game, rushed for 111 yards on 22 carries and had two receptions for 12 yards in the win over the Ravens, a win that keeps the Steelers postseason hopes alive.

Harris caught the game-winning touchdown pass from quarterback Kenny Pickett, a 10-yarder that gave the Steelers a 16-13 lead they were able to hold onto.

"It turned into a scramble rule, and I just scrambled like we practice, and I was open, and Kenny threw a good ball, and I was able to catch it and score," said Harris.

It was the first 100-yard game of the season for Harris, and after a Week 14 game against the Ravens when the offense produced only 65 yards on the ground, it was a chance to turn things around. 

"So that was a challenge the first time we played them this year," said Harris. "That was a challenge. They've got a great defense in general. So, we knew if we controlled the line, we'll be able to win the game. Last (game) we didn't do that. This game we were able to do that. So, obviously that helped us with the outcome.

"This rivalry, that's what it's gonna be like. When we control the line of scrimmage, we win the game. That's just plain and simple. That's what Mike T(omlin) challenged the offense. That's what he challenged me to get downhill, run on them. And that's what we did. We executed the plan."

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