It was billed as a battle of defenses as the two best in the NFL went head to head in cold and snowy Pittsburgh for the AFC championship.
In a game featuring several hard hits—Willis McGahee was carried off on a stretcher after a frightening hit—big defensive stops, and turnovers, the Steelers came out on top over the Ravens 23–14.
Big Ben Roethlisberger battled through a sore back and, with his scrambling ability, was able to make plays and give his team a chance to win. He outplayed his rookie counterpart Joe Flacco. This was the deciding factor in the game.
Flacco threw three INTs, his first ones of the playoffs. Steelers safety Troy Polamalu returned the second pick for a touchdown much like Baltimore’s Ed Reed has become famous for doing.
Flacco ended the game completing only 43.3 percent of his passes for an 18.2 passer rating.
Baltimore ended with a -3 turnover ratio. Having a positive turnover ratio was the main reason they were able to make it this far.
Polamalu also made a key stop on fourth and one, leaping over the mass of humanity to drag back Flacco who was trying the quarterback sneak to get the first down. This was a critical stop for the “Steel Curtain” after a fumble by running back Willie Parker.
Polamalu was all over the field, making tackles, deflecting passes, and making life difficult for Joe Flacco.
The Steelers were the better team on this day. They defied the Ravens to run the ball at the start of the game by focusing against the pass. This is perhaps the biggest difference in this version of the Steel Curtain, namely, the huge improvement against the pass. No doubt second-year head coach Mike Tomlin, a former DB, had some input here.
“I’m rally proud of this band of brothers,” said Roethlisberger, who is now 7–2 in the postseason, after the presentation of the Lamar Hunt Trophy.
Arizona Super Bowl Bound
[caption id=”attachment_79694″ align=”alignleft” width=”320″ caption=”THIRD TIME: Arizona