Steelers' intanigbles help secure championship

Before they could win the AFC North Division, they had to first have the belief that it was still possible at 4-5 and then have the resiliency to bounce back from two fourth-quarter deficits, one of 10 points and one with just over a minute remaining against Baltimore.

The prerequisite intangibles weren't an issue throughout the five-game winning streak that earned for the Steelers a chance to win the division on Christmas Day, or in what became their come-from-behind, 31-27, division-clinching victory over the Ravens.

"It comes from leadership," cornerback William Gay explained. "It starts with the Rooney family, always being visible, in and out of the locker room on a daily basis, knowing that they care, more than just the business part. And then from the GM (Kevin Colbert) to (head coach) Mike Tomlin to the (assistant) coaches, and then the leaders on the team, you can't beat it.

"Everybody cares and everybody is dedicated to the day-to-day basic things that we need to do in order to perform on Sundays."

The Steelers trailed the Ravens 20-10 after the second of two interceptions thrown by Ben Roethlisberger set the Ravens up at the Steelers' 11-yard line and led to a 23-yard field goal by Justin Tucker with 14:18 left in the fourth quarter.

They rallied to take a 24-20 lead with 7:16 left in regulation but fell behind again on a 10-yard run by fullback Kyle Juszczyk that put Baltimore up 27-24 with 1:18 left in the fourth.

"I think today showed some resolve, showed some fight, no quit," Roethlisberger said Sunday night. "When you throw that second pick and they're in the red zone already, you never heard anything from the defense. You never saw them get down, you never saw them complain about the offense.

"Same thing when (Baltimore) scored late, you never saw the offense (complain). We don't point fingers at each other."

Injured defensive end Cam Heyward credited the multiple fourth-quarter comebacks to "just the mental toughness of this team.

"We kept fighting," Heyward said.

Added running back Le'Veon Bell: "We knew once we got rolling and started making some plays, we figured we'd be able to put up some points and that's what we did. We didn't lose confidence at all."


The Pittsburgh Steelers are AFC North Champions. Check out the celebration on the field and in the locker room.

SEVEN FOR THE WIN:** The Steelers took over at their 25 with two timeouts and 1:18 left on the clock and needing a field goal to tie after a touchback on the kickoff that followed the Juszczyk touchdown.

But they were thinking "touchdown."

"We do two-minute drills all the time at practice," center Maurkice Pouncey said. "The first thing (Tomlin) came up and said was, 'I only give you guys one timeout (in practice) and you guys have two, so let's go win."

Added guard Ramon Foster: "There was no lack of confidence, I know that much. We've been in that situation before where we've given teams too much time. Today, they gave us too much time.

"With a quarterback like Ben and the way we protected, Le'Veon running, the receivers caught the balls, the tight ends, everybody just made their plays."


TWO THE HARD WAY:** The Steelers had no timeouts left and 13 seconds remained when the ball was snapped prior to Roethlisberger's 4-yard pass to wide receiver Antonio Brown for the game-winning touchdown.

"All or nothing," Roethlisberger assessed. "You know you can throw it away if you have to, but when 'A.B.' came in there I thought I could get it to him. He caught it and he was right at the 1 (-yard line) or the (goal) line or somewhere and he reached over and it was just an awesome play by him. There was a two-man combination over there (with Brown wide-left and wide receiver Eli Rogers slot-left) so I kinda was looking at both of them and 'A.B.' popped open so I wanted to get him the ball, quick."

Bell credited Brown for being able to finish the play.

"He caught the ball, stopped short and had the presence of mind to reach the ball out over the goal line and still had the presence of mind to hold onto the ball, too," Bell said. "It looks easy when he does it but that's really a difficult play."

The Steelers executed on the Brown TD.

They improvised on the 7-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Bell that gave them a 24-20 lead.

"I had a check-down in the flat but I ended up not even wanting to get out," into the route, Bell said. "I was like, 'OK, I'm going to make sure we don't get sacked right here so I ended up chipping and helping out our tackle. Then I kind of see Ben scrambling and I hear him calling my name. I turned around and once he threw it to me I figured there wasn't anybody around, that's why he threw it to me. Once I caught it, I looked upfield, tried to get in the end zone. Ramon hit me in my back so hard. It was a great play and Ben made that happen.

"It's kinda us just playing football. He kinda knows the things I like to do. I know the things he likes to do. He knows the spots I like to be in on certain plays. We have a nice connection."

HE SAID IT: "We feel like he's a great coach, he's been leading us. We won our division and we feel like we can win a Super Bowl with him." _ Linebacker Ryan Shazier on Tomlin.

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