5 things to know after Steelers beat Packers 38-31

The Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers slogged through sloppy turf

and braved a light, persistent snow in a down-to-the-wire game with

playoff implications for both teams.

In the end, the Steelers held on for a 38-31 win and both squads

got a little help to keep their postseason aspirations alive.

Troy Polamalu forced a fumble to set up Le’Veon Bell’s 1-yard

touchdown run with 1:28 left, then Pittsburgh withstood Green Bay’s

throw into the end zone on the game’s last play. They’re a long

shot, but the Steelers (7-8), after starting 0-4 this season, are

mathematically in the hunt for an AFC wild-card spot.

It would be a near-miracle if they can get through another week.

The Steelers need to beat the Browns in Week 17, and have the

Dolphins, Ravens and Chargers – all 8-7 – all lose.

”There’s only one way to respond to the situation that we’re

in,” coach Mike Tomlin said. ”There’s either (win) or fold the

tents up, and we’re not into that.”

The Packers (7-7-1) had a two-game winning streak snapped, but

still have shot at winning the NFC North after the Bears lost 54-11

to the Eagles on Sunday night.

Chicago and Green Bay meet next week at Soldier Field for the

division crown.

Five things to know after the wild game in the wintry conditions

at Lambeau Field:

BIG PLAY TROY: Long hair flowing out from under of his helmet,

Polamalu lunged through the air as Packers quarterback Matt Flynn

tried to scramble for a first down. Polamalu knocked the ball

loose, the Steelers recovered at the 17 and Bell ran in from 1 yard

out five plays later to give the Steelers the go-ahead score.

Sound familiar? Polamalu came up with his fifth forced fumble of

the season.

”I think you always think about trying to do something to

secure the tackle,” he said. ”Fortunately, sometimes it works

and, unfortunately, sometimes it doesn’t work and you end up

missing tackles.”

NOW BATTING: A rarely seen penalty nearly spoiled the Steelers’


Defensive lineman Ziggy Hood was called for illegal batting in

the third quarter when he poked the ball out of bounds after it had

been loose following a blocked field goal.

Officials conferred a few minutes before calling the penalty and

awarding the ball to Green Bay, ruling the Steelers never

controlled it and that it never crossed the line of scrimmage at

the Steelers 5.

Referee Carl Cheffers described batting to a pool reporter as an

intentional act of striking the ball in a loose-ball situation in

the direction of a team’s own goal line.

The Packers got a second chance and Eddie Lacy scored on the

next play to give Green Bay a short-lived lead.

ROOKIE RBS: Bell finished with 26 carries for 124 yards, while

fellow rookie Lacy had 15 carries for 84 yards and two scores but

later left after re-aggravating an ankle injury.

Lacy vowed to return for the Bears game. He set a franchise

rookie record with 1,112 yards rushing on the year.

”Had we won it would feel a little better,” Lacy said.

PICK SIX: The Packers seemed to be picking on Steelers

cornerback Cortez Allen for spurts, and Jarrett Boykin’s 5-yard

touchdown catch in the first quarter came after jumping and leaning

forward around Allen for the grab.

But Allen atoned for any mistakes by intercepting a screen and

running untouched 40 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Allen finished with six tackles in his third straight start at left

cornerback after replacing William Gay.

MEDICAL REPORT: The injury list got longer for two battered


Besides Lacy, the Packers linebacker Clay Matthews left

following a sack after re-aggravating a right thumb injury that

kept him out of four games earlier this season. Matthews had

surgery on the thumb and he appeared to be in considerable pain on

the sideline.

For the Steelers, rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones was a late

scratch because of the flu, while receiver Emmanuel Sanders had a

1-yard touchdown catch before leaving with a knee injury.

Online: AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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