On Thanksgiving Night 2013, the Pittsburgh Steelers traveled to M&T Bank Stadium to face the Baltimore Ravens in a pivotal AFC North matchup. As it turned out, this game ended up being the greatest Thanksgiving NFL game of the last 10 years.
This game was the final of a three-game slate on Thanksgiving 2013. Both teams entered the contest with 5-6 records, and they were trying to catch the Cincinnati Bengals, who led the division heading into week 12 of 2013.
For the Steelers, they came off a big win on the road over the Cleveland Browns in week 11. The Steelers had a great deal of confidence heading into the national game against their biggest rival.
On the other hand, the Ravens had a rough month of October and started to turn things around in November. They came into the game against the Steelers having won two of their previous three games against the Bengals and the New York Jets.
At first, the late game was shaping up to be a blowout win for the Ravens, as they were ahead of the Steelers, 13-0, with over nine minutes left in the third quarter. The Steelers mounted a comeback in the third quarter with a touchdown from Emmanuel Sanders.
After this Steelers touchdown, the game started to get really interesting. On a kickoff return, Ravens return specialist Jacoby Jones brought back a kickoff and had some running room down the left sideline. Jones started to break away from the Steelers until he hit a roadblock at the Steelers’ 38-yard line.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin stepped onto the field as Jones was racing down the sideline and he was forced to slow down to avoid making contact with Tomlin. The lapse in focus from Tomlin seemed to prevent Jones from scoring a touchdown because Cortez Allen chased Jones down.
That play killed the momentum for the Ravens and they had to settle for a Justin Tucker field goal with 3:54 left in the third quarter. After they trailed 19-7, the Steelers stormed back with a Le’Veon Bell rushing touchdown, which put the Steelers within five points, 19-14.
The game came down to the final minutes when the Ravens tacked on another field and led by eight points, 22-14. With 1:03 left in the game, Ben Roethlisberger fired a one-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jerricho Cotchery. The Steelers need a two-point conversion but were unsuccessful on a back-shoulder throw to Sanders that would have tied the game at 22.
The Ravens went on to win the game, 22-20. The outcome did not matter much for both teams as they finished the 2013 season with 8-8 records and the Steelers and Ravens failed to make the postseason.
Eight years later, this matchup remains the best Thanksgiving game of the past 10 years because it was intense and came down to the wire. Obviously, the Jones-Tomlin debacle helped the game maintain its relevance after nearly 10 years. This was the epitome of a Ravens-Steelers game because a few plays changed the outcome of the game and the entire country enjoyed one of the greatest Thanksgiving games in history.