Rashard Mendenhall rushed from two yards out to break a tie and give the Pittsburgh Steelers a 31-24 win over the Baltimore Ravens in a National Football League playoff game.
The Steelers will meet the winner of tomorrow’s game between the New York Jets and New England Patriots in the American Football Conference title game Jan. 23.
Mendenhall put the Steelers (13-4) ahead 7-0 in the first quarter before the Ravens (13-5) scored three touchdowns to take a 21-7 lead at halftime at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
“We played terrible in the first half,” said Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who improved to 6-0 against the Ravens, in a televised interview. “We gave them the ball in prime field position too many times. We just didn’t play Steelers football in offense and we put our defense in some tough situations.”
Roethlisberger came out in the second half, throwing a 9-yard scoring pass to Heath Miller and an 8-yard throw to Hines Ward to tie the score at 21-21.
Shaun Suisham’s 35-yard field goal in the third quarter was countered by Billy Cundiff’s 24-yarder that tied the game for the Ravens with less than four minutes left. Mendenhall forced his way into the end zone with 1 minute, 33 seconds left to play.
In the first half, the Ravens scored two touchdowns in 27 seconds, capitalizing on fumbles by the Steelers. Ray Rice ran 14 yards for a score with one minute, 20 seconds left in the first quarter.
Cory Redding got his first touchdown of his career when he picked up a loose ball left on the field by players who failed to realize no whistle had been blown to stop the play. The ball knocked out of Roethlisberger’s hand was ruled a fumble and Redding ran 13 yards for the scored.
Todd Heap caught a 4-yard pass from Joe Flacco to give the Ravens their halftime lead.
Roethlisberger completed 19 of 32 passing attempts for 226 yards and two touchdowns. The Baltimore defense sacked him six times.
Flacco, who was sacked five times, passed for 125 yards, one touchdown and one interception.