Unexpected clutch plays might have saved Steelers season (and Matt Canada's job)

It took an array of outstanding clutch plays, but the Steelers may have saved their season (and probably Matt Canada's job in the process).

Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages

Let's be honest with ourselves; with the way things were going against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5, there's no way that the Pittsburgh Steelers should have been able to emerge victorious. However, this team defied the odds when hope was lost and miraculously came away with a 17-10 win over their division rival just before their bye week.

At no point in roughly the first 42 minutes of this game did it look like the Steelers had a chance of pulling off a win. At halftime, Pittsburgh had just 88 yards of offense and managed a dismal 3.4 yards per play en route to just 3 points (which was set up from a takeaway by the defense). As the game progressed, things didn't get much better either.

According to ESPN's win probability, the Steelers never once had a higher percent chance of victory than the Ravens in this contest until the waning minutes of the game.

Their chances first shot up with a clutch interception from rookie cornerback Joey Porter Jr. and later skyrocketed to nearly a 100 percent chance of victory after a 41-yard strike from QB Kenny Pickett to WR George Pickens with just 1:17 remaining in regulation.

The Steelers might have found a way to pull off the win in this pivotal AFC North contest, but it took the most bizarre circumstances and huge plays in key moments from those not on offense to put this team in a position to defy the odds.

Steelers can credit clutch plays from defense and special teams for the win

There was a crazy series of events that even allowed for one final opportunity for Kenny Pickett and the Steelers offense to redeem themselves. After punting the ball three straight times to begin the game, Larry Ogunjobi made the first big play of the game with a forced fumble on Ravens RB Justice Hill.

This gave Pittsburgh great field position at the PIT 48-yard line (though this takeaway would ultimately result in just 3 points). Then, just before the half, the Ravens shockingly decided to go for it on 4th-and-2 with 13 seconds left instead of kicking a chip-shot field goal.

The next clutch play didn't happen until the 11:12 remaining in the fourth quarter. As the Ravens punted the ball deep in their own territory, Steelers special teams captain Miles Killebrew blocked the punt and it rolled out of the back of the endzone for a safety.

Unfortunately, a fumble by Gunner Olszewski gave the Ravens the ball back at Pittsburgh's 7-yard line. With just over 5 minutes remaining, punching in a score would have been the dagger to the Steelers. That's when rookie CB Joey Porter Jr. came up with a miraculous interception on a fade route in the endzone.

This gave Pittsburgh new life, and Pickett was energized he connected with George Pickens on a 41-yard play to cap off an 8-play 80-yard touchdown drive. Ravens had a chance to answer back, but Alex Highsmith sealed the victory with a clutch strip-sack that was recovered by T.J. Watt.

Matt Canada's job might have been saved with the Steelers win

Pittsburgh's offense opened up the game with three straight punts to begin the game against the Ravens. They did the same in the second half -- punting the ball away three times in a row in the third quarter.

At the end of the day, this offense managed a cringeworthy 289 yards on just 4.4 yards per play, and they still couldn't run the ball effectively as they ran for just 2.9 yards per carry on the ground, via ESPN stats. Pickett also managed a mere 88.5 passer rating -- even with the huge touchdown pass at the end of the game.

As poorly as things went for the offense and the fact that this team scored just 15 offensive points, Matt Canada's job may have just been saved thanks to the clutch performances from players he's not even in charge of. Thanks to sacks by T.J. Watt, the blocked punt by Miles Killebrew, the interception by Joey Porter Jr., and the strip-sack from Alex Highsmith, the Steelers were somehow able to come away with the win.

The fact that Pittsburgh has now advanced to 3-2 and currently leads the tiebreaker for first place in the AFC North means that it's unlikely Canada is losing his job. Still, we know this team simply has no offensive firepower with the way things have been. In terms of offensive points, the Steelers now have scored 7, 12, 23, 6, and 15 points, respectively, in each of their five games to open the 2023 season.

Averaging a dismal 12.4 points per game isn't going to get the job done if Pittsburgh manages to weasel their way into the playoffs. They can't expect the defense to bail them out like this, and it's time this team starts putting up points.


This win may have saved the Steelers season. Instead of falling to 2-3 and allowing the Ravens to take a two-game lead at 4-1 and own the head-to-head tiebreaker, Pittsburgh is 3-2 and currently winning their division. The win may have come at the expense of Matt Canada keeping his job, however.

Now this team goes back to the drawing board as their failing offense is desperate for improvement. Let's hope we see some drastic changes following the Week 6 bye.

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