STEELERS 38, PACKERS 31
Steelers' record: 7-8
One year ago: 7-8
Series record (including playoffs): Packers lead, 22-15
Both teams arrived at Lambeau Field still in the hunt for the playoffs, but only the Packers were in control of their own fate. Win two games, and Green Bay would be the champions of the NFC North, while the Steelers faced the reality of being eliminated based on the outcome of the 1 p.m. games. And over the course of the week, the Packers had come to the conclusion that they could beat the Steelers with Matt Flynn at quarterback, without Aaron Rodgers who had yet to receive medical clearance for his broken collarbone.
For the Steelers to make the playoffs, the following scenario had to play out over the final two weeks of the season: Steelers win two, Ravens lose two, Dolphins lose two, Chargers lose one, Jets win two. The 1 p.m. games on Sunday had the Jets hosting Cleveland, and the Bills hosting Miami. The Jets came back from an early deficit to defeat the Browns, 24-13, and the Bills were in control throughout and ended up shutting out Miami, 19-0. In Sunday's late games, New England defeated Baltimore, but the Chargers defeated the Raiders. Still, the day's events meant the Steelers would go into their regular season finale with a chance to make the playoffs. For that to happen, the Steelers will have to defeat the Browns, the Ravens will have to lose in Cincinnati to the Bengals, the Jets will have to defeat Miami, and the Chargers will have to lose to the Chiefs.
TURNING POINT I
The most famous fake punt in recent Steelers history came in the 1992 opener, Bill Cowher's first game as coach, in the first half of a game against the defending division champion Houston Oilers in the Astrodome. Mat McBriar's 30-yard completion to David Paulson set up Ben Roethlisberger's 13-yard touchdown run that swung the momentum to the Steelers and gave them a 17-14 lead early in the third quarter.
TURNING POINT II
Less than six minutes later, the momentum swung back to the Packers when Le'Veon Bell fumbled inside the Steelers 5-yard line. The play originally was ruled down by contact but was reversed on a replay challenge by Packers Coach Mike McCarthy.
TURNING POINT III
After the Packers couldn't convert the fumble recovery into a touchdown, they lined up to settle for a field goal. Steve McLendon blocked the kick, Ryan Clark picked up the loose ball and tried to lateral to William Gay. With the ball bouncing around, Ziggy Hood directed it out of bounds. The Steelers were flagged for an illegal batting of the ball, and because none of the seven on-field officials saw Clark with possession – which was clear on replay – and because on-field possession of the ball is not something that can be challenged – at least according to referee Carl Cheffers – the Packers were awarded the ball and a first down at the Pittsburgh 3-yard line. Eddie Lacy scored on the next play to give the Packers a 21-17 lead.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT I
At halftime, Le'Veon Bell had 71 yards rushing on 12 carries. The Steelers have not had a 100-yard rusher to this point in the season.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT II
By the end of the third quarter, Bell had 102 yards on 18 carries. It was the first 100-yard game for a Steelers running back since Isaac Redman went for 147 yards on 26 carries vs. the New York Giants on Nov. 4, 2012. The Steelers won that game, 24-20.