The Pittsburgh Steelers fought tooth and nail to keep their playoff hopes alive with a win over the Raiders on Christmas Eve.
The Pittsburgh Steelers were playing with a purpose in Week 16. When arriving at Acrisure Stadium, the team honored the late Franco Harris by wearing his legendary number 32 jersey. Art Rooney II would later officially retire Harris’ jersey at halftime. The team was very vocal about wanting to win one for Franco, and they delivered.
This victory didn’t come easy. Both offenses struggled in the frigid conditions, and this had the makings of a true primetime ice bowl. With temperatures feeling like -4 degrees Fahrenheit, this clearly affected the play of both teams.
As a result, passes sailed for both Steelers QB Kenny Pickett and Raiders QB Derek Carr. This resulted in 4 interceptions between these two opposing quarterbacks (3 of which came from the opposition). Each team also had their receivers drop multiple passes in this contest.
After the Raiders made things look easy on their first drive, the offenses for both teams really struggled to get anything going in the freezing cold. By the end of the third quarter, Pittsburgh trailed 10-3.
Eventually, a Chris Boswell field goal brought the Steelers within striking distance. Down 10-6 with time running out, Kenny Pickett and the offense had one final crack to make a touchdown drive to potentially save their season. With just 46 second remaining, Pickett found rookie WR George Pickens across the middle of the endzone for a touchdown.
A few plays later, in an attempt to get in field goal range, the Raiders threw a fate-sealing interception and the crowd at Acrisure Stadium went wild as the Steelers sealed a 13-10 victory.
Steelers win will be memorable
This was far from a pretty win. The offense was downright ugly at times. While the Pittsburgh Steelers could still be eliminated from playoff contention soon with the results of upcoming games in the AFC, this is a win that will be remembered.
On the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception, Steelers nation was emotional as Art Rooney II retired Franco Harris’ jersey at halftime. When we look at this game down the road, we aren’t going to remember it as a meaningless contest between two 6-8 teams. We are going to remember the time our team retired the legendary number 32 jersey and how Pittsburgh’s defense played with their hair on fire to make sure Franco Harris and his family were honored.
There is still so much we need to learn about Kenny Pickett and this team, but Steelers fans received an early gift on Christmas Eve after what proved to be a very emotional night for so many reasons. We wanted to win one for Franco and we did.