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Ravens escape in overtime

The NFL narrowly avoided a major controversy in Sunday night’s Baltimore-Pittsburgh game.

And then the Ravens narrowly avoided a season-crushing loss to the Steelers.

Baltimore prevailed 20-17 in overtime after Paul Kruger picked off a Dennis Dixon pass and returned it 26 yards to the Pittsburgh 28-yard line. Billy Cundiff connected on a 29-yard field goal to win the game five plays later.

Losing to the Steelers at home with Dixon at quarterback would have been embarrassing for a Ravens team with Super Bowl aspirations.

Joe Flacco’s fourth down conversion to Ray Rice (and John Harbaugh’s gutsy decision to go for it) with under four minutes left in regulation helps keep Baltimore in the middle of a crowded AFC playoff race.

After three straight losses, Pittsburgh’s season may largely depend on the availability of Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu.

Seven teams in the AFC now have five or six losses, with the Ravens and Steelers both at 6-5. Denver had the best Sunday of any wild-card hopeful. If the season ended today, the Broncos stand alone as the fifth seed.

UPDATE: Here are some of the highlights from the game, courtesy of NBC.