Steelers pluck Ravens, head to AFC Championship game

By Brian ē on January 17, 2011

Thatís right folks, the Pittsburgh Steelers advance to the AFC championship game with a 31-24 victory over the Baltimore Ravens Saturday afternoon at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The Steelers will host the AFC Championship game for the 10th time in their history and 14th time overall that they have made the AFC conference championship. The Steelers also have one playoff appearance in 1947, but that was before I was born so it doesnít count. These stats are since the 1970 merger.

The Steelers played the Ravens for the third time this season and itís the second time in three years these two teams have met in the post season.
Both times the outcomes were similar, with the Ravens giving up second half mistakes and the Steelers capitalizing on those mistakes and taking over the game. Already troll speak on the web says the refs gave us this game. I guess these jealous haters (seahag fans?) didnít see Ed Reed mug Hines Ward and slam him to the ground by the facemask while the refs had a good laugh calling Hines for the personal foul! What a joke that was, but in the end the refs were idiots for both teams so they were basically a non factor.

The Steelers started out by giving the Ravens a short field with stupid penalties and thumb-up-the-*** laziness when Ben fumbled forward and noone thought to fall on the ball till the Ravens Cory Redding remembered there was no whistle so the play was live. FAIL AGAIN for the refs as no sandbag was thrown like it is for any other fumble I have ever seen. But thatís no excuse for Ramon Foster to not fall on the ball at his feet. He even might have picked it up and run for a first down. Missed opportunity there mister!

This was Rashard Mendenhalís first playoff game as he was busted up by Ray Lewis in 2008 so he missed his rookie season with a broken shoulder. So Rashard may as well have been a rookie, and his fumble on the Steelers 1st drive of the second quarter to give the Ravens a short field again. The Steelers stopped Baltimore on their very first possession and drove the field on theirs to take a 7-0 lead. With the three mistakes they made up to this point they soon fell behind 21-7 and gave up 21 unanswered points. It was NOT Steeler football, as two missed tackles by Troy Polamalu framed the Steelers fist half that ended with a missed 43 yard Shaun Suisham field goal attempt.

As Ben Roethlisberger has said after many a game, they left a lot of plays out on the field. They came out for the second half with new vitality and looked like the Steelers we all know and love. After a futile 5 play drive Steelers punter Jeremy Kapinos punted and the Ravens started to fall apart. It was not that they folded what the Falcons did at home can be considered folding. The Ravens were manhandled; sure handed Ray Rice fumbled for the first time all season on his first carry of the second half. With the ball on the Ravens 23 Mendenhall the wreakingball ran through the teeth of the ravenís defense for 14 yards and Ben hit tight end HEEEEETH Miller for a 9 yard score to pull the team within 7.

The Ravens futility was not just ball control, they couldnít run against the Steelers, gaining only 35 total yards rushing while the Steelers settled for 71. while the Ravens were starting to lose their cool, their feathers, and the game, the Steelers were coming together after a long layoff with their bye week. On their next possession after a 3 and out by Baltimore the Steelers held the ball for only 7 plays, but that was enough to give the defense some time to rest as they came out and had to play for one whole play as Safety Ryan Clark flew in front of Ravens tight end Todd Heap and intercepted Joe Flacco for the second turnover of the quarter. The Steelers needed all of 4 plays to go 25 yards and score the game tying touchdown, a beautiful bullet to Hines Ward right in the middle of the field. A remarkable 70% of Hines catches talk place in the middle of the field and this one was against the team that threatens to take his head off if he runs across the middle. Well he did and they didnít!

To end the Ravens futility their quarterback fumbled the snap on their next drive, what would be called an unforced error, and gave the Steelers the ball at the same point on the field that the other two turnovers did. This time the Steelers couldnít move the ball into the endzone despite a gamble, a successful 4th and 1 at the Baltimore 14 yard line. One of Benís many sacks almost pushed the field goal back to the 43 where Suisham missed in the second half, but this time Shaun was good from 35. The Ravens made one final mistake, after a 3 and out Kapinos punted the ball back to the ravens that ran the ball back for a touchdown. WAIT! An actual holding penalty was called! Well pinch my toes and call me a jelly doughnut! A holding penalty NOT called on the Steelers but called on the opponent! Let me call that NFL sellout Mike Pereira and ask him if that was a penalty or not! Why is this guy even IN the booth? Talk about influencing the game!

Well the ball was called back to -10 yards from the spot, the Steelers held them to a field goal, and we got the ball back with less than 4 minutes left and a tie game. Are we excited yet? HELL YEAH! With the 4 minute offense working well the Steelers responded well, with a sack to Ben, (6th of the game) and another penalty on Baltimore for holding, and a fantastic pass catch of 58 yards from Rookie Antonio Brown the Steelers scored again. That catch that Brown made was one great catch, he held the ball one handed against his helmet and sidestepped the sideline before going out at the 4 yard line. Rashard Mendenhall punched it up the gut to finalize the scoring. A three and out ended then game, actually tj whoseyourmomma dropped a pass that may have given the Ravens a chance at a hail Mary or 2 at the end of the game. Fitting that an ex bungle who wiped his feet with a Terrible Towel a few years back was the clown that sent us to the championship game.

Thoughts of the game, next season I hope that Chris Kemoeatu is either not a Steeler, a second stringer, or wakes up and learns to play within the rules, twice he had blatant shots at a raven after the whistle, and the last one was such a joke even the blind refs saw it and threw the flag. It was uncalled for, and could have hurt us with the kickoff coming from the 20 instead of the 35.

With all the great rookie play this season, number one being Maurkice Pouncey, its no surprise our rookies have not gotten any attention. But our wide receivers played awesome in this game, outplaying the ravenís top 3 receivers and their tight end! In fact Brownís catch was for more yards than all three of the ravenís wide receivers put together.

Our so called Ďweakest linkí was supposed to be our cornerbacks! I say HAH! Ike Taylor is the most underrated corner in the game today, and held Anquon Boldin to -2 yards, thatís NEGATIVE 2 yards! And William Gay played fantastic, holding Derrick Mason to no catches at all! Tj actually had some yardage, and so did Rice, but you cant cover everyone on every play and we had 100 more passing yardage that they did on almost the exact same amount of pass plays.

If I told you that a safety was going to intercept a pass, who would you think he was? Troy Polamalu, we in the Steeler nation would say Troy then Ryan Clark, and everyone else in the world would say Ed Reed, but it was Clark. He was all over the place, and even knocked out Ike Taylor early in the game. Thank the stars that Ike came back to play solid.

Ziggy Hood laid the wood in this game! He played half the game In the Ravens backfield; he had a big sack near the end of the game and also had 4 solo tackles. He is starting to get the game plan that Dick LeBeau has going and he will be an asset for years to come.

40% of homes with a TV were on Saturday night, and over 20% of those were tuned to the Steelers Ravens game, for the highest rating in 15 years. Like I said, this IS the best rivalry in all of sports!

This is the Steelers 14 conference championship game since 1970; (actually since 72 since that was our first one) we are 5-4 at home and 2-2 away. This is our 25th playoff appearance and 15th division championship.

Pick anybody you like for MVP as there were so many plaers deserving I canít pick yet, but I will pick before I post my next article, so we can have a winner. If I start getting more people to comment I may go to weekly prizes and a final prize at the end of the year.

We are two steps from Heaven on our Stairway to Seven! GO STEELERS!!!!!!!H