Steelers surge past Ravens in battle for AFC North

Los Angeles (AFP) –


The Pittsburgh Steelers exploded for 21 points in the fourth quarter to beat the Baltimore Ravens 31-27 in a Christmas battle for the NFL's AFC North division crown.

Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday connected on a four-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown with nine seconds remaining as the Steelers overcame a 10-point deficit in the final period.

The Steelers beat their bitter division rivals for the first time in five games to eliminate the Ravens from playoff contention and win their 22nd division crown since 1970.

"We punched our ticket, and that's an awesome thing," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said of securing a playoff berth.

Pittsburgh looked to be on their way after two Le'Veon Bell touchdowns in about four minutes in the fourth quarter helped them overcome a 20-10 Baltimore lead and take a 24-20 edge.

But Baltimore surged back as quarterback Joe Flacco mounted a 75-yard, go-ahead touchdown drive capped by Kyle Juszcyk's 10-yard scoring run up the middle.

However, Roethlisberger had just enough time to fashion a game-saving 75-yard drive, capped by Brown reaching with an arm to get the ball across the goal line.

Pittsburgh won their sixth in a row after dropping four straight. Baltimore's defeat also assured Kansas City of a playoff berth, shortly before the Chiefs took the field against the reigning Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos -- who needed a win to keep their slim post-season hopes alive.