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Antonio Brown, Chris Boswell's late heroics lifts Steelers over Green Bay

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A Chris Boswell 53-yard field goal as time expired gave the Steelers a 31-28 win Sunday night at Heinz Field, pushing Pittsburgh's winning streak to six games.

A little luck, a lot of talent and some late mistakes from the opposition, makes for the right recipe when the upset bug tries to bite.

Standing as a two-touchdown favorite, Pittsburgh (9-2) used that blend to cook up another win in a thrilling 31-28 victory over Green Bay (5-6) at Heinz Field Sunday night.

With the fate of a six-game winning streak riding on his foot, zero-to-hero candidate, Chris Boswell—who, with no field goal attempts in the game at that point, and missed an extra point to start the game— came through as the coolest customer of the night, booting a 53-yard field goal as time expired.

“It’s kick-to-kick,” said Boswell, who is now 2-for-2 on kicks 50 yards and out this season.  “You’re going to have errors.  You just have to bounce back.  I knew I hit it good, but it was an ugly kick.  It was a knuckleball, but it hung in there, and it went through.  That’s all that matters.”

Antonio Brown, who arguably put together his finest game of the 2017 campaign, led the Steelers down the field to set up the Boswell winner, as Ben Roethlisberger connected with the star receiver on back-to-back plays—including an incredible, toe-dragging grab out of bounds for a 25-yard gain to put Pittsburgh at the 45-yard line with just 13 seconds left.

“I knew right away I had it,” said Brown, who finished with 169 yards on 10 receptions with a pair of touchdowns.  “I got my hand on the ball and was able to drag it.  I knew right away it was a catch.”

“He’s the best in the world on the sideline,” said Roethlisberger of Brown.  “So, if it’s even close, I’m not betting against him.  It’s what he does.  He’s just special.”

Roethlisberger, who was complimented by the stellar receiving performance of Brown, finished 33-of-45 with a season-best 351 yards and four touchdowns, marking the signal caller’s second four touchdown game of 2017.

Questionable play-calling kept the game from reaching overtime, as the Packers had the ball with 1:20 left in the game at their own 18-yard line, and went three-and-out with 27 seconds left, forcing the Steelers to use just one of three timeouts prior to punting.  Brett Hundley was sacked for a loss of six-yards by TJ Watt on first down.  On second down, a short pass to Jamaal Williams, who then ran out of bounds, set up a third down run up the middle from Williams, forcing the lone timeout.

“Our last series, clearly we were in two-minute mode,” explained Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy.  “The helmet-to-helmet hit on the first down kind of set things back.  You could see we were late getting the second play in.  Then when we got to third-and-long, I obviously played for overtime.”

Despite their dismal numbers coming into the game, the Packers’ offense came in as a hungry contender Sunday night, rattling off two quick first quarter touchdowns—including a wide-open Hundley-to-Randall Cobb 39-yard hookup down the sidelines—giving Green Bay a 14-6 advantage.

The starter Hundley, who has replaced the injured Aaron Rodgers since Sept. 28, pieced together his best performance of the season, tossing for 245 yards on 17-of-26 passing with three touchdowns, including a 55-yard strike to Davante Adams to start the second half, putting Green Bay ahead 21-14.

“It’s self-inflicted.  It’s things that we can control,” said Cam Heyward of the Packers’ ability to make big plays Sunday night.  “I think we had a couple busted coverages.  You tip their hat to them.  Hundley played well, but we made the plays when we needed to, especially on offense.”

Green Bay strung together a total of five plays that went for 25-or-more yards.

“We overcame adversity.  Big plays by them,” said coach Mike Tomlin.  “We were able to overcome those things.  We were probably fortunate, but it’s also probably a good sign of the group in terms of we’re a good enough team to kind of overcome those things.”

One of those leaps over a pothole came at the start of the fourth quarter, when the usual ball-protective Le’Veon Bell let a rare fumble slip out Bell fumbled, after a Blake Martinez strip at the 34-yard line going in, which gave possession to Green Bay, whose offensive unit was then smothered to the tune of a second straight three-and-out, compliments of a relentless defensive squad that forced three incompletions.  A Ben-to-AB 33-yard connection on the ensuing drive put the Steelers back in the end zone, corralling the lead for just the second time in the game, with the only other coming from an opening 12 play, 59-yard drive that gave the Steelers a 6-0 lead.

“I kind of lifted my foot [and Martinez] kind of grabbed my arm when I tried to put my single arm on the ball.  I ended up getting hit and losing it,” said Bell of the fumble. 

“As long as it goes in the “W” column, it does not have to be pretty to get it done,” continued Bell, who finished with 95 yards on 20 carries, with 88 yards on a season-high 12 receptions.  “As long as we get one more point than the other team, that’s all that matters.”

Green Bay gave one more push in trying to steal those points, and the “W” from the Steelers, when a Jamaal Williams four-yard rush with just 2:02 left in the game, capped a stoic 12 play, 77-yard drive that tied things at 28.

“We can’t forget about giving up plays,” said cornerback Artie Burns.  “We have to look over all of those plays, and make sure that we clean those up, so we don’t have those mistakes again.  We just have to have better technique, better discipline, and we’ll be okay.”

The Steelers’ offense stepped up for the defensive unit, outgaining Green Bay 462-307, while owning the time of possession at 33:36.

Ryan Shazier, who finished with a team-best eight tackles, talked about the beauty of winning ugly.

“If all of your wins are pretty, you’re not going through adversity,” the linebacker said.  “That’s what our team is doing.  You learn from games like these.  It might not be the way all the fans wanted, or how the media wants it to look like, but we just have to win, and at the end of the day that’s all that matters.”

After the spread

The Steelers closed as 14-point favorites, losing as the home team laying points for just the second time this year (3-2.)  Pittsburgh avoided an embarrassing loss as a -1200 moneyline favorite (Green Bay +750.)

The over/under, which was set at 43 points, went well over with 59 points combined, marking just the third time this year that Pittsburgh has gone over in a game (3-8.)

Up next

The Steelers will look to extend the winning streak to seven, when they travel to Cincinnati in a Monday Night Football bout with the Bengals.  Kickoff for Dec. 4’s game at Paul Brown Stadium is set for 8:30 PM.  Pittsburgh is an early 6.5-point road favorite the divisional rivalry.

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