It turns out leaving 17 seconds on the clock for Ben Roethlisberger is too much time.
With the game tied at 28, Roethlisberger led his Pittsburgh Steelers 35 yards down the field to set up a game-winning field goal by Chris Boswell as time expired, handing the Green Bay Packers a 31-28 loss.
The Packers’ defense, boosted by the return of Morgan Burnett at safety, couldn’t stop the Steelers when it counted and allowed 462 yards of offense.
Despite a brilliant performance by first-year starter Brett Hundley, Green Bay suffered its fourth loss in the last five games. The Packers are now three games back of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North and two games behind the conference’s final wild-card spot with five weeks to go.
If Aaron Rodgers returns in three weeks, do the Green Bay Packers have a quarterback controversy on their hands?
Kidding, of course, but Brett Hundley played well enough on Sunday night to keep the game tight, throwing for 245 yards and three touchdowns for a career-best passer rating of 134.3 — which bested Roethlisberger, by the way.
Packers fans had to be impressed by Hundley’s late drive in the fourth quarter to tie the game. Looking poised as ever with under nine minutes to play and the score at 28-21, Hundley marched his Packers 77 yards down the field in 12 plays, picking up six first downs, and the drive was capped with a 4-yard touchdown run by Jamaal Williams.
On that drive, Hundley faced a fourth-and-6 — a do-or-die situation. He stepped up in the pocket and fired a pass to his favorite target, Davante Adams, who hauled it in to move the chains. Williams waltzed in for his second score of the night on the very next play.
USA TODAY SportsCharles LeClaire
DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME
The rookie running back had a day. Williams consistently made the first man miss on his runs and receptions, racking up 135 total yards and two touchdowns on a Steelers rushing defense that entered the game ranked eighth in the NFL.
Williams has started the Packers’ last three games. He’s establishing himself into a dual-threat halfback, rushing 59 times for 190 yards (3.2 ypc) and has caught nine passes for 114 yards.
USA TODAY SportsJim Matthews
With 17 seconds left and the game tied 28-28, Roethlisberger stood back at his own 30-yard line and threw a bullet to Antonio Brown, inside Packers territory.
Somehow, Brown caught it.
Wedged between rookies Kevin King and Josh Jones, the 29-year-old dragged his right foot inbounds and maintained control to set up a first-and-10 from Green Bay’s 47-yard line with 13 seconds to play.
Brown caught the next pass – a 14-yard reception – to set up Chris Boswell’s game-winning 53-yard field goal.
Brown torched the Packers for 169 yards and two touchdowns on 10 receptions. He’s eclipsed the 100-yard mark in six games this season.
3 — The Packers won the turnover battle, intercepting Roethlisberger twice and forcing a Le’Veon Bell fumble in the fourth quarter. And Green Bay didn’t turn the ball over, either. In Hundley’s five starts at quarterback, the Packers have lost the turnover battle once — in last week’s 23-0 shutout by the Baltimore Ravens. But the Packers are 1-4 in those games. Whether it’s Hundley not taking advantage of a short field or the defense’s inability to stop opponents without taking the ball away, something needs to change.
USA TODAY SportsJim Matthews
THEY SAID IT
“Those are all the steps you look for in your young quarterback. I thought he did a good job in key spots. Good football. I thought he did a heck of a job tonight.” — head coach Mike McCarthy on Hundley’s performance
“I love my teammates. I've had so much support from them. That's why it hurts. I’m just trying to make sure we have an opportunity to win & that I play my best for them.” – quarterback Brett Hundley
“I always believe in him. That’s something we expect from him. It’s not something we’re surprised that it happened. Our expectations for him are high -- to lead a team and get us a touchdown.” – running back Jamaal Williams on Hundley’s fourth-quarter drive to tie the game
Green Bay goes back home to host the 4-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday before continuing its road trip around the AFC North with a noon matchup Dec. 10 against the 0-11 Cleveland Browns. After the way the Packers played Pittsburgh, the next two games look like wins.