PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers had every opportunity to put their biggest rivals away, perhaps for good this season.
But they let one get away. And now the Baltimore Ravens have new life.
Ravens kicker Justin Tucker hit a 42-yard field goal to tie it in the final seconds of regulation and made a 52-yarder with 5:08 left in overtime to give Baltimore a 23-20 victory on Thursday night.
"There were too many times where we could've put our foot on their throats and we just didn't do it," Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward said.
A pair of missed field goals by Josh Scobee and two failed fourth-down conversions in overtime proved to be the Steelers' downfall.
Pittsburgh led 20-17 and Scobee had two chances to give the Steelers some cushion late in the fourth quarter only to pull both kicks wide left. The second miss gave the Ravens (1-3) enough time to put Tucker well within range to send the game to an extra period.
"It's pretty frustrating," Scobee said. "I felt like I let the team down and it's just a bad feeling."
Pittsburgh then twice opted to go for it on fourth down in Baltimore territory in overtime rather than send Scobee out for a long attempt into the tricky wind at the open end of Heinz Field. Michael Vick, starting in place of injured Ben Roethlisberger, was stopped on fourth-and-2 at the 39 and later overthrew Antonio Brown on fourth-and-1 from the 33.
Neither Vick or Scobee would get a third shot.
"It's probably one of the toughest losses of my career," Vick said. "We had our chances to win the game and there were a lot of plays I could've made that I didn't make. It was disappointing."
Joe Flacco led the Ravens to the 35 and Tucker's winner was never in doubt.
Justin Forsett ran for 150 yards for the Ravens. Flacco threw a touchdown pass and did just enough late to help Baltimore end the worst start in franchise history.
"It's hard to remember right after the game what happened, but it doesn't matter now," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "The finish is what counts and the finish is what our guys were able to accomplish."
Vick threw for 124 yards and a score and Le'Veon Bell ran for 129 yards and a touchdown but the Steelers (2-2) bumbled late.
"I'm pretty sure (Scobee) wishes he could get those two back," Vick said. "I know I had throws I wish I could take back and I'm pretty sure there were other guys that made plays they would like to take back."
For most of the night, it appeared Pittsburgh would survive with Roethlisberger relegated to a sweatsuit after spraining his left knee last week against St. Louis.
The Steelers sacked Flacco five times, forced a pair of turnovers and twice stopped the Ravens on fourth downs in the fourth quarter to seemingly seize control only to have Scobee let Baltimore back in it.
"It was a hard-fought game on both sides," Scobee said. "I wish I would've been able to come through, but it wasn't my night."
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said the team could explore the possibility of adding a fourth kicker in three months.
"We have to find ways to win games," Tomlin said. "Obviously, that's an element of it. It was an element of the outcome tonight."
Scobee, acquired from Jacksonville in August after injuries to Shaun Suisham and Garrett Hartley, saw a 49-yard attempt sail wide with 2:24 to go. Pittsburgh forced a four-and-out only to watch Scobee flutter another one wide left with a minute left.
It gave Flacco just enough wiggle room to force overtime. Seven plays took the Ravens from the Baltimore 31 to the Pittsburgh 24, with Tucker drilling the 42-yarder to tie it with 3 seconds left.
"No matter which end of the stadium you're kicking at, it's a tough stadium to kick in," Tucker said. "It's a tough place to play."
Pittsburgh received an unexpected boost from cornerback Ross Cockrell, signed off the waiver wire at the end of the preseason. Cockrell picked off Flacco to end one Baltimore drive in the second quarter and alertly scooped up a fumble by Flacco early in the third that set up a 9-yard touchdown pass from Vick to Darrius Heyward-Bey as the Steelers took a 20-7 lead.
The Ravens, desperately trying to avoid an 0-4 hole that would all but end their playoff hopes a quarter of the way into the season, responded emphatically.
Flacco found Kamar Aiken — who slipped behind Cockrell — for a 15-yard touchdown strike to cut it to 20-14 and the Ravens had a chance to draw within three late in the third quarter. Instead of a relatively short field goal, Baltimore tried a fake field goal and ended up losing 3 yards when backup tight end Nick Boyle was tripped up by Sean Spence shortly after catching a flip from holder Sam Koch.
Fortunately for Tucker and the Ravens, it wouldn't be the last chance.