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  1. #1
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    Default Thread with multiple storylines on game

    Mistake-prone Ravens bounced from playoffs

    By DAVID GINSBURG AP Sports Writer

    PITTSBURGH (AP)—The mistakes began with an improbable fumble by Ray Rice early in the second half.

    The Ravens then committed two more turnovers in the third quarter, each one giving the ball to Pittsburgh within striking distance of the end zone.

    It was all too much to take for Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis and his proud, overworked defense.

    “I’ve said it time and time again: The No. 1 thing you cannot do is turn the ball over,” Lewis said in the stoic Baltimore locker room. “That will never change in this business. Ever.

    Bidding to reach the AFC championship game for the second time in three years, the Ravens had their hopes crushed in a 31-24 defeat Saturday. After bolting to a 21-7 halftime lead, Baltimore’s season ended under the weight of an assortment of miscues that included dropped passes, untimely penalties and, most of all, turnovers.

    In the third quarter the Ravens allowed Pittsburgh to start three drives inside the Baltimore 26.

    “When you play the way we did in the first half and then you go into the second half and as soon as you start the game you give the ball away, it’s too much of a momentum swing,” Lewis said. “They’re already at home, they’ve already got things going their way, and you turn the ball over three, four times in our end of the field? We’re good, but to overcome all of that is harsh on my defense. I wouldn’t put that on my defense because we played our hearts out today.”

    It was the third time in three tries Baltimore has lost a playoff game in Pittsburgh, but this one was different than the rest.

    The Ravens led by 14 points when Rice lost his grip on the football - the most surprising miscue in the dreadful third quarter.

    Rice had carried the ball 331 times and caught 73 passes this season without fumbling when he slipped out of the backfield to catch a pass from Joe Flacco. Hit in the middle of the field by safety Ryan Clark, Rice lost the ball.

    “I’m not sure who hit it out or whatever. But that’s totally my fault. I can take that,” Rice said. “I’m not a fumbler, but in a situation like that I’ve got to be more careful. I was just trying to make a play.”

    The Steelers scored to make it 21-14, which started a run of 17 straight points.

    “They made some big plays and got back into the game score-wise and momentum-wise,” said center Matt Birk, whose early snap on a second-down play led to a fumble by Flacco.

    The Ravens managed to tie it on a field goal with 3:54 left, but that only delayed the seemingly inevitable conclusion.

    Ben Roethlisberger completed a 58-yard pass to Antonio Brown on a third-and-19 in the closing minutes when the Ravens opted to go with a three-man rush. That play put the ball at the Baltimore 4.

    After Pittsburgh scored a touchdown to make it 31-24, T.J. Houshmandzadeh dropped a fourth-down pass from Flacco, ending the season for Baltimore (13-5).

    “When the game was on the line, I want my number to be called and it was. And I didn’t catch it,” Houshmandzadeh said. “That’s the moral of the story, the outcome of the game.”

    Despite getting off to a slow start, the Ravens scored 21 consecutive points to take a 14-point lead at halftime.

    Then Rice fumbled. That got the crowd back in the game, and after Pittsburgh scored, the volume increased after Flacco was sacked on first down.

    It got worse. Much worse.

    After an exchange of punts, Clark intercepted Flacco and took it to the Baltimore 25. That set up an 8-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Hines Ward, tying the game at 21.

    The Ravens went the entire third quarter without a first down.

    In the fourth quarter, an apparent punt return for a touchdown by Lardarius Webb was called back because of a holding penalty on Marcus Smith.

    Minutes later, Anquan Boldin dropped a pass in the end zone. So instead of taking a 28-24 lead, Baltimore had to settle for a field goal and a tie.

    It typified the entire second half.

    “It’s a shock when it’s over,” tackle Marshal Yanda said. “It hits you like a sledgehammer.”

    At the outset, it appeared this game was going to be different - and not in a good way - for the Ravens. Baltimore allowed only one touchdown in each of its previous two games, but Pittsburgh went the distance on its opening possession to take a 7-0 lead.

    With the aid of a 37-yard pass interference penalty against Josh Wilson, who protested the call, the Steelers covered 80 yards in surprisingly easy fashion.

    And then, just as quickly, things started going Baltimore’s way.

    Until the third quarter.

    “That’s a veteran team over there, and we didn’t put them away,” said linebacker Terrell Suggs, who had three sacks. We’ve got nobody to blame but ourselves. They didn’t make those mistakes, so they get to go home and play in the AFC championship game and contend for a Super Bowl. We go to the couch.”

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=txravensmistakes

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    In a fight, it’s Roethlisberger who delivers KO

    By TIM DAHLBERG AP Sports Columnist

    The hits were so bruising and the play so intense that Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin likened it to an epic fight. Hagler against Hearns, he suggested, with only the winner standing in the end.

    After the scrapes Ben Roethlisberger has been through in the last year, perhaps it was only fitting that he delivered the knockout blow.

    The quarterback who once seemed on the verge of being run out of town is once again the toast of the town in Pittsburgh, thanks largely to a desperation heave that succeeded against all odds. And the Steelers are a game away from playing for their third Super Bowl title in six years because the one thing that hasn’t changed about Roethlisberger is the way he plays.

    New and improved off the field, he’s always been a winner when he straps on his helmet.

    “If I see him in the huddle,” receiver Hines Ward said, “I know I’ve always got a chance to win a ballgame.”

    A lot of Pittsburgh fans might not have felt so confident about their team’s chances when the Steelers gave Baltimore a gift of two touchdowns within seconds of each other Saturday and trailed 21-7 at the half. But Roethlisberger didn’t go to all the trouble of reinventing himself just to get knocked out in his first playoff game since being suspended by the NFL for his actions with a female college student in a bar.

    His numbers weren’t terribly impressive, and he took a pounding from a Baltimore defense that sacked him six times. But a 58-yard pass to rookie Antonio Brown on third-and-19 that set up the winning touchdown was Roethlisberger’s biggest play since the day he sat himself in front of a mirror and vowed to straighten out his life.

    And, it put the Steelers in the AFC championship game.

    He’s been a model citizen for months now. But there’s nothing that spreads love more than winning, and even the Steelers fans most critical of Roethlisberger must have liked what he managed against the Ravens.

    It happened because Roethlisberger took a chance on a pass he seemed to have no hope of completing. Not against a Baltimore defense dropping eight players back to prevent it, and not with a receiver who wasn’t even activated regularly until midseason.

    “I saw the young fellow just take off, so I’m just going to throw it up for you,” Roethlisberger said, referring to the pass that Brown cradled precariously against his helmet before being run out of bounds at the Baltimore 4-yard line.

    Five plays later, Rashard Mendenhall scored up the middle. Not long after, the Steelers were walking off the field, 31-24 winners of a game they seemed destined to lose.

    “Right now I don’t feel anything but joy,” Roethlisberger said.

    That had to be better than whatever he felt when Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him for what turned out to be the first four games of the season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. The penalty stemmed from Roethlisberger’s actions on the March night the college student accused him of sexually assaulting her. He was never prosecuted.

    Roethlisberger could have served his suspension and come back unchanged. But he seemed eager to improve his relationships with his teammates and the media, in addition to behaving off the field.

    After the game, he made it a point of praising the Rooney family that owns the Steelers, and the coaches for being the best in the business.

    “We’re family,” he said. “We have been ever since I’ve been here.”

    In a way, Saturday’s game was a microcosm of Roethlisberger’s year. In trouble early, he worked hard to dig himself out of a deep hole - and did some growing up along the way.

    The Steelers move on to face either the Jets or Patriots next Sunday, with the winner going to the Super Bowl. That’s familiar territory for Roethlisberger, who already has two rings and seems intensely focused on adding a third.

    “He may not be Brady or the other guys, but you can’t knock the guy for what he’s done,” Ward said. “History shows he’s a proven winner.”

    History will also show that he’s a fighter. Maybe not a Hagler or a Hearns, but a fighter nonetheless.

    Because a champion fighter knows how to get up after being down.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slu...dahlberg011511

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    Epic collapse ends Ravens’ season, Steelers advance
    The National Football Post

    PITTSBURGH—An epic meltdown of colossal blunders and breakdowns spelled doom for the Baltimore Ravens, suffering a crushing defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers that transformed a normally vibrant locker room into the atmosphere of a morgue.

    Squandering what appeared to be a commanding lead, the Ravens didn't have to look further than the mirror for the reasons behind their debacle of a 31-24 AFC divisional playoff loss Saturday night at Heinz Field.

    The Ravens committed three turnovers, surrendering their two touchdown lead as two fumbles and an interception directly led to 17 unanswered points for the AFC North champion Steelers. The Ravens are winless in three playoff games against the Steelers.

    "It's a shock," offensive tackle Marshal Yanda said. "When it's over, it hits you like a sledgehammer. We're locked in for six months and then one game and it's over. It's rough, it hurts."

    The game was ultimately decided in the final two minutes when Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall plunged into the end zone from two yards out.

    However, the momentum was seized in the third quarter when the Ravens ruined their chances with chronic turnovers.

    "Losing to your rival when you were up 21-7 at the half, you're behind enemy lines and you didn't get them off the field, it sucks," said outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who played a terrific game with three sacks. "You have to take your hat off to them.

    "We didn't put them away, so we had nobody but ourselves to blame but ourselves. It sucks, you can't say the refs took one. We have to take a long look at ourselves. This isn't our season, and it comes to the hands of the Steelers."

    The third-quarter miscues started with the lone fumble of the year by running back Ray Rice when free safety Ryan Clark(notes) ripped it out of his hands.

    Two plays later, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hit tight end Heath Miller for a nine-yard touchdown pass to close the gap to 21-14. It's the first third quarter touchdown the Ravens have allowed this season.

    This marks the Ravens' seventh consecutive loss to Roethlisberger, whose second-seeded Steelers advance to the AFC championship game to play the winner of today's New England Patriots-New York Jets game at Gillette Stadium.

    "It's heartbreaking for us to lose the way we lost," middle linebacker Ray Lewis. "We understand what kind of game this was going to be."

    The Ravens had just 26 yards of total offense in the second half.

    Quarterback Joe Flacco misfired on a throw to tight end Todd Heap(notes) that was intercepted by Clark.

    Roethlisberger capitalized again with an eight-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Hines Ward to tie the score.

    Flacco completed just 16 of 30 passes for 125 yards, one touchdown and one interception for a 61.1 passer rating.

    "We don't feel good about this one," Flacco said. "When you look at those turnovers, you could look at it and say we beat ourselves. You say, ‘Hey, that's why we lost.'"

    Subsequently, Flacco fumbled on a mistimed snap by six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk.

    And that set up Shaun Suisham's 35-yard field goal as the Steelers took their first lead of the game.

    "In a sense, you can't believe the first one, the second one and the third one," said wide receiver Derrick Mason, who didn't catch a pass. "It's like, ‘Wow, what's going on?'"

    The Ravens tried to manufacture a late comeback, but flubbed two opportunities to get in position.
    An erratic Flacco overthrew an open Todd Heap, sailing the pass incomplete deep over the middle to his tight end.

    And veteran wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh had an accurate Flacco pass bounce off his chest on fourth down, a play that would have gone for a first down. That turned the ball over to the Steelers and they ran out the clock.

    "When the game was on the line, I wanted my number to be called," Houshmandzadeh said. "It was, and I didn't catch it. That's basically the moral of the story. I've always made that play. It's almost like it's not real.

    "I can't believe it. I jumped up, and I was indecisive whether I was going to catch the ball with my hands or try to body catch it. It was too late. I can't believe that happened, I would bet every dollar I have that I make that."

    Minutes earlier, three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Anquan Boldin allowed a pass to deflect off his chest in the end zone on a low, accurate pass from Flacco.

    And the Ravens were forced to settle for a 24-yard Billy Cundiff field goal that tied the score at 24-24.

    "I tried to come up with it, it was low," Boldin said. "It was a tough play. It was a low ball. You can't turn the ball over. That's what killed us."

    The fumble by Birk was inexplicable, too.

    The Ravens haven't had exchange problems all season long.

    "Some mistakes obviously like snapping it early," Birk said. "That's kind of a self-inflicted wound. They're making plays. On the road and in the playoffs, you've got to be at your best when your best is needed."

    The Ravens only had 12 first downs to the Steelers' 21.

    The Ravens generated just 126 yards of total offense, averaging 2.4 yards per offensive play.

    "What a better way to win and put Baltimore out of the tournament," Ward said. "They asked for us and they kept asking for us. Sometimes like my mama always said, ‘Be careful what you ask for.' At the end of the day, they have to worry about this loss the whole offseason."

    They rushed for only 35 yards, averaging 1.9 yards per rush.

    "The biggest thing was the turnovers," Flacco said. "We didn't play a perfect game, but we probably could have won without playing a perfect game if we hadn't turned the ball over."

    In the fourth quarter, a 55-yard Lardarius Webb punt return for a touchdown was nullified by a controversial holding call on wide receiver Marcus Smith.

    "I lock up, drive and my feet, try and keep my hands inside, work the technique we work on every day in practice," Smith said. "I thought it was clean. The referee throws a flag. I think it's a clean block. I'm talking trash, thinking it's effective, thinking we ran the kick back and there's a flag on the field.

    "I didn't think it was on me. I thought no way could it be on me. That situation in the game you never want to be that guy, for any reason. You want to be that guy making the play on the other side. I was honestly disgusted with myself and the play in general. We can't have that period, if it was an accident, if it was the referee's fault for whatever reason. At that point in the game, everything's on the line."

    Webb was involved in another big play where he was beaten badly by wide receiver Antonio Brown for a 58-yard reception that set up Mendenhall's game-winning touchdown.

    Now, the Ravens have a long offseason to contemplate what went wrong.

    "I don't think we have too much time for regrets," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We just weren't great enough to win that football game. That's certainly disappointing, but that doesn't discourage us, doesn't frustrate us. We'll be back. We can't wait to get back and get started. We'll be lining up again next year real soon."

    As good a season as the Ravens had, going 13-5 and winning five consecutive games after their first loss to the Steelers in December, this setback figures to haunt them for a while.

    "We're both good football teams," Flacco said. "The bottom line is they're better at winning right now than we are. We have to improve. We're just not there yet."

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slu...eelers_advance

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    Hines Ward can’t help but gloat
    The National Football Post

    PITTSBURGH—Pittsburgh Steelers veteran wide receiver Hines Ward loves to play the villain.

    And he gloated a little bit after the Steelers' 31-24 AFC divisional playoff victory at Heinz Field, rubbing some salt in the Baltimore Ravens' wounds.

    "They always pride themselves on bullying guys, bullying people," Ward said. "They always do all the trash-talking. They have been trash-talking all week, how they want to break Ben's nose again and stuff like that. Sometimes when you are fighting the bully, you just have to hit them in the mouth and you shut them up.

    "To come back the way we did, the way we fought throughout the whole game, speaks volumes about our team, what we are made of and what type of character we are. It was a great win for our organization."

    It got ugly between two fierce rivals Saturday night.

    Ward slammed free safety Ed Reed to the ground in the first quarter and was penalized for unnecessary roughness.

    Ward said he was outnumbered and defending himself.

    "I got a roughness call and I had four guys beating me up," Ward said . "I love it. That's what it is all about. Ed Reed and I have our battles, no disrespect to Ed. He probably thinks it's a little personal, but it's playoffs. Loser goes home. So why sit there and save it? I am going to go out there and fight, scratch, and claw to win a ballgame."

    Ward has a long history of abusing the Ravens.

    Not only did he catch a touchdown pass against Baltimore, but he has dominated the Ravens with his downfield blocks.

    Some of them have extremely controversial as he demolished former Baltimore linebacker Bart Scott and Reed with hits that sent them sailing through the air during a game at Heinz Field three years ago.

    Afterward, Scott was so enraged he made a death threat against Ward before later backing off those remarks.

    Reed didn't conduct interviews after the game.

    "If Ed takes it personal, so be it," Ward said. "It's the playoffs. Like I said, the loser goes home. So I am going out there and fighting my tail off to help my guys get open or open up a huge run.

    "Some guys don't particularly like the way I go after guys, so the first personal foul call was just funny because I had four guys beating me up under the pile. And I come out with the personal foul. It wasn't even offsetting. I just chuckled about it."

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slu...help_but_gloat

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    What happened on third-and-long?
    The National Football Post

    PITTSBURGH—How did the Baltimore Ravens allow the Pittsburgh Steelers to convert a first down on 3rd-and-19 in the final minutes of the AFC North champions' comeback playoff win?

    Ben Roethlisberger launched a 58-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Antonio Brown.

    That set up the game-winning touchdown run by running back Rashard Mendenhall.

    The Ravens were in a prevent defense.

    That's been our philosophy all year is don't let the ball get thrown over your head," outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "It's a prevent defense. It's a third and 19, you can give up 18. Get off the field, and the offense has an opportunity to win the game.

    "But somehow we gave up a deep one. I don't know how, I wasn't back there. I don't know what happened. All I know is some dude caught the ball."

    Brown simply dashed past Webb.

    "He had a step," Webb said. "He got a step."

    Roethlisberger was shocked that the Ravens only sent a three-man rush.

    "We called the play and I told (offensive coordinator Bruce Arians) that even though all the outside guys are supposed to run 15-yard ‘stop' routes, just try to get something, but I said, ‘Let's send 'em, let's just take a shot. Who cares? Chuck it deep.'

    "I'm thinking to myself, ‘If they pick it, it'll be a pick way down there, just as good as a punt. Let's take a chance.' Ed Reed lined up to the left and that's always a key, to find out where he is. Keep the safety in the middle of the field and throw it as far as I can."

    The Steelers had Mike Wallace line up wide left and had Hines Ward(notes) in the slot on the left with wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders lined up right and Brown wide right.

    The Ravens essentially dropped eight players and rushed three.

    "Yeah, I thought they were going to come all out," Roethlisberger said.

    Added Suggs: "We were fully confident that our three-man rush could get there. That's what we wanted to do. You're not supposed to give up that big one."

    Brown simply ran past Webb, who's one of the fastest Ravens.

    "He got even with the guy," Roethlisberger said. "Like we say, if he's even, he's leavin'."

    And Roethlisberger made another play against the Ravens, adding to his legend.

    He has won seven consecutive games over Baltimore.

    "It's Ben," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "You give this guy an opportunity to snap it, he's capable of producing plays. It's not always how you draw it up, but he has a no-blink mentality. He's a competitor and a winner.

    "And those guys follow him. In third-and-20, there's no such thing as a primary guy. Hopefully, somebody down the field was open and he was."

    Ravens coach John Harbaugh defended the strategy by defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, which was ultimately an ineffective gambit.

    "I just think they made a great play over the top," Harbaugh said. "It was a great throw. They ran a nice route, got behind us obviously and made a play. It's going to happen sometimes. I thought our secondary played well the whole game. I don't have a problem with any individual performance. Our guys were battling out there. That's what you ask for."

    In Harbaugh's opinion, Roethlisberger would have been able to escape the rush no matter how many people the Ravens sent after him.

    "The ball would have been out either way," Harbaugh said. "That was a pretty quick throw. I don't think it would have mattered how many guys we brought in that particular situation. We could have brought more and moved the ball out quicker.

    "I thought we had good pressure. We had six sacks. We had a bunch of knockdowns. These are two teams that play great defense, so I don't think pressure was the problem."

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slu...n_thirdandlong

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    Ravens’ offensive line struggles
    The National Football Post

    PITTSBURGH - It resembled an old-fashioned stampede, and the Baltimore Ravens got trampled.

    Quarterback Joe Flacco was battered, harassed and practically imbedded in the turf by a ferocious Pittsburgh Steelers pass rush.

    The Ravens' offensive line had zero answers for a formidable front seven as they were dominated by blue-chip outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.

    During a 31-24 loss in an AFC divisional playoff game Saturday night at Heinz Field, the Ravens surrendered five sacks.

    "It's an elite pass rush," offensive tackle Tony Moll said. "They come off the ball so fast. That's what makes them really good. There were mistakes up and down the board that we would love to have back."

    It was Moll who was dusted by Woodley on a blitz off the right edge.

    Harrison did plenty of damage, too.

    He sacked Flacco three times for 21 yards of losses, recording seven tackles, two quarterback hits and two pass deflections.

    Harrison consistently beat left offensive tackle Michael Oher.

    "Great player, great player," Oher said. "That guy's almost unstoppable. We got to finish people off and get better as the game goes on."

    Woodley finished with three tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery.

    "Yeah, we hit Flacco a few times," Woodley said. "We applied a lot of pressure to him, sacked him a few times, got some bad passes. So, it worked out in our favor."

    With Flacco under so much duress, the Ravens rarely were able to build any rhythm with their passing game.
    Flacco passed for only 125 yards, completing 16 of 30 passes for one touchdown and one interception for a 61.1 passer rating.

    "I feel like they played tough the whole game," offensive tackle Marshal Yanda said. "Obviously, frustrated. We couldn't get it done. It's tough to go out like that, but it is what it is."

    Plus, six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk flubbed a snap when he delivered the football too early to Flacco.

    Overall, it was a rough night for an offensive line that allowed 40 sacks in the regular season and nine sacks in two playoff games.

    The Ravens had problems all season and seemed affected greatly by the season-ending back injury to left tackle Jared Gaither.

    "Some mistakes, things like snapping it early, that's a self-inflicted wound," Birk said. "But they're making plays, you know. Playing a good team on the road, especially in the playoffs, you've got to be at your best.

    "In the third quarter, they got back in the game score-wise and momentum-wise. We just had a hard time getting going after that. They're good, so we've got to play better. We didn't win enough battles to win the game."

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slu...line_struggles

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    Mistake-prone Ravens bounced from playoffs

    By DAVID GINSBURG AP Sports Writer

    PITTSBURGH (AP)—The mistakes began with an improbable fumble by Ray Rice early in the second half.

    The Ravens then committed two more turnovers in the third quarter, each one giving the ball to Pittsburgh within striking distance of the end zone.

    It was all too much to take for Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis and his proud, overworked defense.

    “I’ve said it time and time again: The No. 1 thing you cannot do is turn the ball over,” Lewis said in the stoic Baltimore locker room. “That will never change in this business. Ever.

    Bidding to reach the AFC championship game for the second time in three years, the Ravens had their hopes crushed in a 31-24 defeat Saturday. After bolting to a 21-7 halftime lead, Baltimore’s season ended under the weight of an assortment of miscues that included dropped passes, untimely penalties and, most of all, turnovers.

    In the third quarter the Ravens allowed Pittsburgh to start three drives inside the Baltimore 26.

    “When you play the way we did in the first half and then you go into the second half and as soon as you start the game you give the ball away, it’s too much of a momentum swing,” Lewis said. “They’re already at home, they’ve already got things going their way, and you turn the ball over three, four times in our end of the field? We’re good, but to overcome all of that is harsh on my defense. I wouldn’t put that on my defense because we played our hearts out today.”

    It was the third time in three tries Baltimore has lost a playoff game in Pittsburgh, but this one was different than the rest.

    The Ravens led by 14 points when Rice lost his grip on the football - the most surprising miscue in the dreadful third quarter.

    Rice had carried the ball 331 times and caught 73 passes this season without fumbling when he slipped out of the backfield to catch a pass from Joe Flacco. Hit in the middle of the field by safety Ryan Clark, Rice lost the ball.

    “I’m not sure who hit it out or whatever. But that’s totally my fault. I can take that,” Rice said. “I’m not a fumbler, but in a situation like that I’ve got to be more careful. I was just trying to make a play.”

    The Steelers scored to make it 21-14, which started a run of 17 straight points.

    “They made some big plays and got back into the game score-wise and momentum-wise,” said center Matt Birk, whose early snap on a second-down play led to a fumble by Flacco.

    The Ravens managed to tie it on a field goal with 3:54 left, but that only delayed the seemingly inevitable conclusion.

    Ben Roethlisberger completed a 58-yard pass to Antonio Brown on a third-and-19 in the closing minutes when the Ravens opted to go with a three-man rush. That play put the ball at the Baltimore 4.

    After Pittsburgh scored a touchdown to make it 31-24, T.J. Houshmandzadeh dropped a fourth-down pass from Flacco, ending the season for Baltimore (13-5).

    “When the game was on the line, I want my number to be called and it was. And I didn’t catch it,” Houshmandzadeh said. “That’s the moral of the story, the outcome of the game.”

    Despite getting off to a slow start, the Ravens scored 21 consecutive points to take a 14-point lead at halftime.

    Then Rice fumbled. That got the crowd back in the game, and after Pittsburgh scored, the volume increased after Flacco was sacked on first down.

    It got worse. Much worse.

    After an exchange of punts, Clark intercepted Flacco and took it to the Baltimore 25. That set up an 8-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Hines Ward, tying the game at 21.

    The Ravens went the entire third quarter without a first down.

    In the fourth quarter, an apparent punt return for a touchdown by Lardarius Webb was called back because of a holding penalty on Marcus Smith.

    Minutes later, Anquan Boldin dropped a pass in the end zone. So instead of taking a 28-24 lead, Baltimore had to settle for a field goal and a tie.

    It typified the entire second half.

    “It’s a shock when it’s over,” tackle Marshal Yanda said. “It hits you like a sledgehammer.”

    At the outset, it appeared this game was going to be different - and not in a good way - for the Ravens. Baltimore allowed only one touchdown in each of its previous two games, but Pittsburgh went the distance on its opening possession to take a 7-0 lead.

    With the aid of a 37-yard pass interference penalty against Josh Wilson, who protested the call, the Steelers covered 80 yards in surprisingly easy fashion.

    And then, just as quickly, things started going Baltimore’s way.

    Until the third quarter.

    “That’s a veteran team over there, and we didn’t put them away,” said linebacker Terrell Suggs, who had three sacks. We’ve got nobody to blame but ourselves. They didn’t make those mistakes, so they get to go home and play in the AFC championship game and contend for a Super Bowl. We go to the couch.”

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=txravensmistakes
    Was Ray-Ray playing in the same game that I was watching???
    As I recall, the Steelers Spotted the Rats 21.
    HEY RAY-RAY!!! Did you notice how The Steelers handle "The Harsh"...
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    "PAPPY" 39~10
    ~ICP 010~

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    Default Re: Thread with multiple storylines on game

    Houshmandzadeh, Boldin come up short
    The National Football Post

    PITTSBURGH—Two former Pro Bowl wide receivers both came up short for the Baltimore Ravens during their playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    T.J. Houshmandzadeh dropped an accurate throw on 4th-and-19 in the fourth quarter.

    It would have given the Ravens a first down, but it didn't decide the game.

    "It's tough, because it ends because of me," Houshmandzadeh said. "Just make a play. And the play that I should make, that I could make, that I've always made - I don't. It's almost unreal to me. I can't explain it.

    "We blew it, or I blew it, really. I love football, and I can't [usually] wait to watch the games. I have like no enthusiasm to watch games now. It's like that disappointing to me. And it's hard to explain."

    Houshmandzadeh said that he can't believe it happened.

    "It's almost like I'm dreaming, because with me getting here late, it's fourth down, and he comes to me," Houshmandzadeh said. "He came to me on fourth down. That's what I wanted. And for the life of me, it's almost like disbelief that that happened. And it did. And there's not too much I can do about it now."

    Boldin's dropped pass in the end zone on a low throw from Joe Flacco was arguably bigger.

    The Ravens had to settle for a field goal that tied the game.

    "I tried to come up with it," Boldin said. "It was low. It was a tough play. It was a low ball."

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slu..._come_up_short

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