Losses don’t come much tougher than the one Green Bay and Packer nation absorbed Sunday night.
The undermanned Packers, minus several key starters on offense and defense, battled AFC power Pittsburgh toe-to-toe for 60 minutes of a 28-28 game Sunday evening at Heinz Field.
But as the clock ran out, Chris Boswell blasted a 53-yarder through the uprights to give the 9-2 Steelers’ a sixth straight victory and send Green Bay to a second consecutive defeat.
The Packers’ record now falls below .500 for the first time in the 2017 season at 5-6—four games behind 9-2 Minnesota and a game behind 6-5 Detroit. Green Bay must now win out its final five games to have a chance at an NFC wild card spot.
Head coach Mike McCarthy was proud of his team’s performance in defeat, in which Brett Hundley played well, completed 17 of 26 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns for a stellar 130 point quarterback rating. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 351 yards and four touchdowns, along with two interceptions.
Like most NFL teams, Green Bay had no answer for Antonio Brown, one of the league’s elite receivers. Despite commanding double coverage much of the game, Brown hauled in 10 receptions for 169 yards and two touchdowns from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
When the Steelers needed him most on their game-winning drive in the final 17 seconds, Brown delivered with a perfect sideline catch along the sideline at the Green Bay 47 for a crucial 23-yard gain, dragging the toes of his back foot across the turf before he went out of bounds. On the ensuing play, Brown caught a 14-yarder to set up the game-winning field goal attempt.
The game did not start out well for the Pittsburgh kicker, as he hooked an extra point wide left in the swirling winds at Heinz Field. But it ended in spectacular fashion, with Boswell blasting a 53-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Steelers to victory and tie the record for the longest field goal in Heinz Field history.
It was a career long for Boswell, who Roethlisberger said in a live post-game interview is routinely teased by head coach Mike Tomlin for his lack of field goals over 50 yards.
Blake Martinez, the second-year linebacker from Stanford elevated his game Sunday night, going beyond his typical solid tackling to playmaker.
Martinez registered a game-high 15 total tackles—including 12 solo—and also gave his team two opportunities to score precious points on the road in the second half. He made a sliding interception in the third quarter of a tipped Roethlisberger pass by Ahmad Brooks and recovered a Le’Veon Bell fumble early in the fourth quarter forced by Morgan Burnett.
The Packers could not capitalize on the turnovers, missing a 57-yard field goal after the interception and going three-and-out after the fumble recovery.