An illegal batting call. A fake punt. Four touchdowns.
The third quarter of Sunday’s Steelers-Packers game had more action than some full contests have. And on the strength of three touchdownd in the period, the Steelers have a 31-24 fourth-quarter lead in snowy Green Bay.
Let’s start at the top. A Steelers fake punt set up Pittsburgh’s first TD of the quarter, a 13-yard Ben Roethlisberger TD run to give Pittsburgh a 17-14 edge. One play earlier, punter Mat McBriar connected with tight end David Paulson for 30 yards, and a Green Bay penalty added to the gain.
Later in the quarter, a bizarre sequence of events after a blocked field goal led to the Packers retaining possession of the ball and capitalizing with a two-yard Eddie Lacy TD run to retake a 21-17 lead.
It all began when Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon blocked Mason Crosby’s 23-yard field goal attempt. Steelers safety Ryan Clark picked up the ball, then lateraled it backwards, where it ended up loose on the ground. Steelers defensive end Ziggy Hood batted the ball forward and out of bounds, which drew a penalty for illegal batting.
As a result, the Packers gained a first down, as the officiating crew ruled that the Steelers never possessed the ball after the block.
On the next play, Lacy scored from two yards out, giving the Packers the lead.
However, the Steelers responded strongly, putting together a six-play, 68-yard drive ending in a Matt Spaeth TD catch to go ahead 24-21 late in the third quarter.
Then, on the Packers’ next series, Cortez Allen intercepted a Matt Flynn pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown, giving Pittsburgh an 11-point lead. On the play, Flynn ran into tight end Andrew Quarless, which affected the throw.
The Packers would cut the lead to 31-24 on a 22-yard Mason Crosby field goal with 12:04 left in regulation.