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By The Sports Xchange December 22, 2013 8:38 PM
The Packers had two major penalties in the final two minutes -- an offside and a false start -- that were costly. The Packers had the ball inside the 5 with 1:03 left on the clock, but couldn't score to tie the game. Green Bay (7-7-1) will be eliminated from the NFC race if Chicago beats Philadelphia on Sunday night. With the game tied at 31 at the two-minute warning, safety Troy Polamalu stripped scrambling Packers quarterback Matt Flynn, with the Steelers recovering at Green Bay's 17. Shaun Suisham lined up for the go-ahead field goal with 1:35 to play but linebacker Nick Perry was flagged for offside, which gave the Steelers a first down. Running back Le'Veon Bell ran for 4 yards to the 1, forcing Green Bay to use its final timeout, and he scored from the 1 on the next play, making it 38-31 with 1:25 to go. Micah Hyde returned the ensuing kickoff 70 yards -- the team's longest of the year entering the game was just 31. Completions of eight yards to Jordy Nelson and 18 yards to Andrew Quarless made it first-and-goal at the 5. James Starks carried to the 1 on the next play. With the clock running, right tackle Don Barclay was flagged for a false start -- a 5-yard infraction and a 10-second runoff. The officials set the ball at the 6 and started the clock with 10 seconds to go. Flynn's throw to Jarrett Boykin was incomplete as time expired. Despite the win, Pittsburgh (7-8) was eliminated from the playoff race after the Chargers beat the Raiders. Green Bay, which overcame big deficits in back-to-back wins over Atlanta and Dallas behind Flynn, rallied from a 10-point deficit to tie the game at 31 with 7:14 to play. A 31-yard completion to Nelson and two powerful runs from Starks set up fullback John Kuhn's 1-yard touchdown. The Steelers took a 31-21 at the end of a wild five-minute sequence to end the third quarter. After Pittsburgh rallied to take a 24-21 lead, Flynn threw a quick pass to Boykin. As he was about to throw, Quarless ran into Flynn. Flynn's fluttering pass was picked off by cornerback Cortez Allen, who raced 40 yards for a touchdown. The Packers' ensuing possession went nowhere but, on the final play of the third quarter, linebacker A.J. Hawk made a one-handed interception. Green Bay took over at the 23 but had to settle for a 22-yard field goal to pull within 31-24 with 12:04 remaining. Green Bay took a 21-17 lead with 5:19 to go in the third quarter after a bizarre sequence of plays. After the Packers downed a punt at the 2, Bell was almost tackled in the end zone but powered out to about the 4, where he was stripped by linebacker Jamari Lattimore. Bell was ruled down but the Packers won the challenge, taking possession at the 2 on cornerback Tramon Williams' recovery. The Steelers, however, stopped the Packers cold. With Green Bay using defensive linemen B.J. Raji and Mike Daniels as extra blockers, Eddie Lacy was dropped for a loss of three by rookie linebacker Vince Williams. After two incomplete passes, Vince Williams blocked a chip-shot field-goal attempt by Mason Crosby. It appeared safety Ryan Clark picked up the loose ball and attempted a lateral. The ball hit the ground, however, with defensive lineman Ziggy Hood batting the ball out of bounds. Hood was flagged for illegal batting, and Green Bay retained possession when the officials ruled the Steelers never possessed the ball, much to Tomlin's dismay. Lacy scored from the 2 on the next play to give Green Bay a 21-17 lead. The Steelers answered quickly. Bell made amends for his fumble with a 25-yard run in which he hurdled safety Morgan Burnett. Roethlisberger punctuated the drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Matt Spaeth. Moments later, Allen got his key pick-six. The Steelers' special teams were a dominant force throughout and got a huge play on the first possession of the third quarter. On fourth-and-2 near midfield, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin called for a fake punt. Punter Mat McBriar rolled to his right and patiently waited for someone to get open before lofting a pass deep to backup tight end David Paulson for a gain of 30. A roughing-the-passer penalty on Jake Stoneburner tacked on 15 more yards. On the next play, Roethlisberger stepped up in the pocket and ran untouched for a 13-yard touchdown to give Pittsburgh its first lead, 17-14. NOTES: Green Bay LB Clay Matthews recorded his 50th career sack with about five minutes left in the first half. Matthews injured his thumb on the play and was lost for the rest of the game. Matthews broke his thumb on a sack of Detroit's Matthew Stafford on Oct. 6 and missed four games. ... Fellow LB Brad Jones was lost to an ankle injury in the first half, as well. ... Pittsburgh's special teams delivered two key return, a 41-yard punt return by Antonio Brown and a 46-yard kickoff return by Emmanuel Sanders. Brown's return didn't result in points but Sanders' runback allowed Pittsburgh to score a field goal at the end of the first half. ... Sanders and LB Terence Garvin were knocked from the game with knee injuries. ... The Packers' 14-10 halftime lead was its first since Oct. 27 at Minnesota. That was the game before QB Aaron Rodgers sustained a broken collarbone.