PITTSBURGH PA - JANUARY 15: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates the game winning touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Heinz Field on January 15 2011 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

NFL Playoffs: Steelers Beat Ravens, Will Face Jets In AFC Championship

For more on the Steelers, check out Behind the Steel Curtain.

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NFL Playoff Picture: Jets Beat Patriots By Score Of 28-21, Will Face Steelers In AFC Championship

The Jets’ 28-21 over the Patriots Sunday night is excellent news for the Steelers, whose path to the Super Bowl is no longer blocked by perhaps the NFL’s best team in the regular season. Instead, the Jets will come to Pittsburgh to play the AFC Championship Game on Sunday at 6:30. The Jets played very good defense throughout the game and, though Mark Sanchez was a little erratic, made more than enough big plays on offense to put the Patriots away.

Although the Jets beat the Steelers earlier this year, they’re a much better matchup for the Steelers than the Patriots would have been, particularly given that a Steelers-Patriots matchup would have been in New England. The Patriots beat the Steelers too, but did so a lot more soundly, and Troy Polamalu was out for the Jets game. It’s obviously far too early – obviously far too early – to start counting chickens here, but with only the Jets, Bears and Packers standing in the Steelers’ way, Pittsburgh’s dreams of another Super Bowl victory look a lot crisper than they did a few days ago.

Speaking of the Bears and Packers, the Bears won 35-21 today as the Seahawks’ Cinderella story came to an end, so the NFC championship game will be at Soldier Field on Sunday at 3:00 (FOX).

Yesterday was a great day for Steelers fans, but today is a pretty darn good one as well.

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NFL Playoffs, Ravens Vs. Steelers: Baltimore Handles Loss With Class, Humility

For all the trash-talking between the Steelers and the Ravens leading up to Pittsburgh's miraculous 31-24, come-from-behind victory, Baltimore sure did handle the loss with a lot of grace. Here's head coach John Harbaugh, who opened his post-game remarks (video) with praise for the Steelers and a really healthy perspective on the disappointing end to a very accomplished Ravens season:

"Obviously, congratulations to the Pittsburgh Steelers. They just won a heck of a football game here, and hats off to 'em. It was a heck of a comeback, and they earned it. I'm very disappointed for our guys and our team, but [I'm] proud of 'em, nonetheless ... [I don't have] regrets. I'm proud of our football team. [I'm] grateful for the opportunity to play in a football game like this ... All you can do in life is take a shot at being great ... Our guys did that all year. We just weren't great enough today to win that football game."

Hats off to Coach Harbaugh, too. Yes, he's "the enemy," (or whatever) but the dude is a class act and a very, very good football coach. The Steelers are a better team for having to go up against his squad two or three times a year.

Quarterback Joe Flacco also gave the Steelers a lot of credit for their win:

"We're both good football teams, and the bottom line is they're better at winning the game right now than we are. We need to improve, and we're not there yet. "

Even Terrell Suggs, who took trash-talking to a new stratosphere this week, was graceful in defeat:

"You gotta take your hat off to 'em ... Hines Ward and Ben [Roethlisberger], they know how to win playoff games. That's a veteran team over there, and we didn't put 'em away ... We have nobody to blame but ourselves. [The Steelers] get to go on and play in the AFC Championship and contend for a Super Bowl, and we go to the couch."  

Although it's certainly cold comfort to the loud-mouthed pass rusher, Suggs played an amazing game yesterday, as per his usual, sacking Roethlisberger three times and forcing a fumble that was recovered for a touchdown. Suggs will certainly be back to terrorizing Pittsburgh's offensive line next year.

Predictably, some of the choicest quotes came from Baltimore's centurion linebacker, Ray Lewis, who was borderline Confucian (video) in his philosophical remarks following the loss:

"The way we feel right now, somebody [is] gonna feel like that tonight, somebody [is] gonna feel like that tomorrow, somebody [is] gonna feel like that next week in the AFC Championship ... [whoever wins the Super Bowl], it's their year ... If it's your time, it's your time. If it's not, it's not."

Lewis also talked about wanting to teach his sons to deal with defeat in a healthy manner, by leading with example: "When you teach those lessons [of humility], you have to live by 'em yourself." He also expressed gratitude - rightfully so - at having the successful year that the Ravens had:

 "For me to be in my fifteenth year, and for me to be able to fight with these guys ... for me to even be walking off this field, after my twelfth Pro Bowl, I give credit to [my team] for that. So hold your head up high." 

Anyhow, I wanted to write about this not to rub the Ravens' collective nose in it, but to give exposure to something that doesn't get reported on nearly enough: good sportsmanship. All week we heard about how nasty and vociferous the Ravens-Steelers rivalry is, but that hatred is based on a foundation of mutual respect and - dare I say it - admiration. The Steelers are a good team, and the Ravens know it.

That goes both ways. Good season and great game, Baltimore. The Steelers will undoubtedly do their best to represent the AFC North - the best division in the league - in the AFC Championship. And of course they'll have Steelers-Ravens circled on next year's calendar, too. See you then, Baltimore.

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NFL Playoffs, Ravens Vs. Steelers: Fourth Quarter Notes

Be sure to check out my firstsecond, and third quarter notes, as well.

  • The Steelers' second play in the fourth quarter was an awesome one. Pittsburgh was looking at 4th-&-1 on Baltimore's 14-yard line. They lined up as if they were running the hard count, looking to draw the defense offsides, then ran a successful quarterback keeper at the last possible second. Sneaky. Aggressive. Awesome. Not enough head coaches go for it on 4th down in such situations; game theory guys have looked at this a million times over and concluded that you have to take your next likely field position into account, too. So even if you don't convert there, your defense is in good shape and is likely to get you the ball back at midfield on your next drive. So go for the kill, swing for the fences. Unfortunately, the Steelers were stuffed on their next three plays and had to settle for a field goal instead of a touchdown. Still, a fourth quarter lead is a fourth quarter lead. Pittsburgh 24, Baltimore 21 with 12 minutes remaining.
  • Ike Taylor is having a monster game, batting balls away left and right. Joe Flacco's primary wide receivers, Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason - who Taylor locked onto all day - have done basically nothing the whole game. Instead, Flacco's had to turn to his running backs and tight ends for most of his production. One of the stories of the offseason will be how Pittsburgh's front office handles Taylor's impending free agency.
  • Pittsburgh's three-and-out halfway through the final quarter was a huge missed opportunity. Leading by three points, the Steelers were in the driver's seat. But Baltimore's defense came up huge, giving their offense a chance to retake the lead. Lardarius Webb did his part on a 55-yard punt return that began with an absolutely sick spin move. Fortunately, the touchdown was repealed by a holding penalty, and the Ravens had to settle for a game-tying field goal instead.
  • I have no idea why the Steelers were forced to waste their first timeout just before the two-minute warning. Perhaps there was some kind of a miscommunication or something, but you can't throw timeouts away like that. Just like not playing to the whistle during the Ravens' fumble recovery for a touchdown, calling the timeout there was unworthy of professional ball.
  • Fortunately, Roethlisberger connected with rookie Antonio Brown for 58 yards on the next play. It was 3rd-&-19, which makes the bomb a really counter-intuitive call in that situation. Then again, maybe that's why you give it a try. You're probably not going to convert, so why not take a chance at a game-changing play downfield? In any case, Bruce Arians called a brilliant, aggressive game. Brown and fellow rookie Emmanuel Sanders, Roethlisberger's leading targets on the day, were terrific, combining for seven receptions and 129 yards. The future of Pittsburgh's passing game looks bright indeed.
  • I understand that you don't want to give Webb an opportunity to play hero after Rashard Mendenhall's second touchdown plunge, but why squibb it so shallow? Baltimore's next drive began on the 50, which seems like a lot to concede just to avoid the possibility of a return touchdown.
  • What a hell of a game. And a weird one, to boot. The two teams combined for just 389 yards, but still managed 55 points (0.14 points per yard), due to a flurry of turnovers and 11 total sacks. The Steelers recovered from two lost fumbles and a 14-point deficit and bested the Ravens 31-24. Amazing.

    All that's left is for Steelers fans to root for the New York Jets tomorrow, as they travel to Foxboro to take on the New England Patriots. If the Jets can pull off the upset, Pittsburgh will host a second playoff game: the AFC Championship.
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NFL Playoffs, Ravens Vs. Steelers: Third Quarter Notes

What a great third quarter! The Steelers came out of half time with a well-founded sense of urgency, taking the ball away from Baltimore three times and scoring two touchdowns to tie it up at 21, all. If they can keep this going in the fourth quarter and put the Ravens away, they will have punched a ticket to their second AFC Championship in the last three seasons. Here are some of my observations from the third quarter. Be sure to check out my first and second quarter notes, too.

  • Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco has been playing it safe all game (under 4 YPA), but Ray Rice fumbled on his sixth dump-off, creating a possible turning point after a disastrous first half. A couple plays later, after a 14-yard burst from Rashard Mendenhall, Ben Roethlisberger connected with tight end 9-yard touchdown. This is exactly the kind of start to the second half the Steelers needed, closing the Ravens lead to just seven points.
  • I feel a little bad for Pittsburgh's defense, who has played lights out. However, it will take a little work to distill their competence from the stat sheet; some people might see Baltimore's 21-point explosion in the first half and assume that the Steelers defense got torched, when really they've been dominant. Through three quarters, they have three sacks, three takeaways, and are allowing just 2.76 yards per play.
  • I've come to the conclusion that Ed Reed just doesn't like getting blocked. It seems like every time he and Hines Ward are jawing at one another after a play, it's because Ward has - shock! - hit Reed, who would (understandably) rather run around the field unimpeded.
  • I'd be happy if the Steelers never ran an end-around again. It seems like two thirds of the time they do, it results in a 6-yard loss, as was the case during a Pittsburgh drive late into the third quarter. And it seems like the upside of that call is...a 6-yard gain. Why do we call these?
  • I wrote earlier this week that the Steelers own Joe Flacco, and they certainly seem to be continuing that trend today. Flacco inexplicably chucked the ball right into the safety help, and Ryan Clark capitalized, snagging it easily and took it back for 17 yards. A few plays later, Ward caught an 8-yard bullet on a slant route, Roethlisberger's second score of the day. 
  • Two plays from scrimmage later, Flacco and center Matt Birk fumbled their exchange, putting Pittsburgh in prime position to take the lead in the fourth quarter. Here we go, indeed.
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NFL Playoffs, Ravens Vs. Steelers: Second Quarter Notes

Hang in there, Steelers fans. Maybe your team can turn things around in the second half. For now, though, they trail bitter rivals the Baltimore Ravens, 21-7, after losing two fumbles in the first half. Here are some of my observations from the second quarter. Be sure to check out my first quarter notes, too.

  • Good thing Rashard Mendenhall actually fumbled within Pittsburgh's own 20, huh? I say that because the only thing that would be more frustrating that what transpired would be if the replay showed that Mendenhall hadn't fumbled; head coach Mike Tomlin would've been helpless to do anything about it, with all his challenges gone. Still, the Ravens capitalized on Pittsburgh's negligence for the second time this half, increasing their lead to 21-7 after a 4-yard score to Todd Heap. You really can't expect to win if you give the game away like this. Baltimore is too good of a team for Pittsburgh to spot them two scores like that.
  • This is stating the obvious, but Jonathan Scott is no match for Terrell Suggs. It's not even a fair fight - Suggs is so much faster and so much more tenacious. He's been in Roethlisberger's face all day, just like the last time these two squad met, registering two sacks in just one half of football. On some of the quarterback pressures, Suggs went literally untouched. Just like it's tough to win when you fumble the game away, it's nearly impossible to rebound from a big deficit if your quarterback is running for his life.
  • In addition to Pittsburgh's last drive being no fun to watch - nothing will shorten a sports fan's life expectancy like watching Roethlisberger try to navigate the "pocket" - it resulted in zero points for the Steelers. It would've been sooooo great to score a TD there. Then the situation wouldn't look so bleak; Pittsburgh would be trailing by just a touchdown and would receive the ball in the second half. Instead, the Steelers will try to regroup after a disastrous first half, down by two scores. Here's to hoping they can pull it together.
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NFL Playoffs, Ravens Vs. Steelers: First Quarter Notes

Here we go, folks. Biggest game of the year. If the Steelers win against the Ravens today, the Super Bowl will be within sight. Here are some of my observations from the first quarter of the first NFL playoff game this weekend. Check back for more throughout the game.

  • Based on the Ravens' pregame let's-get-pumped-up ritual ("Giveitallwegotgiveitallwegotgiveitallwegot!"), I predict that the Ravens are going to give it all they've got.
  • It seems like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed have been great for the entire history of the league, doesn't it? Lewis' production this year (139 tackles), at the ripe age of 35, is simply ridiculous. Similarly, Reed led the league in interceptions (8) despite missing six games to injury. That's just silly.
  • Way to go Shaun Suisham, for stopping Lardarius Webb on the opening kickoff. He doesn't have quite the leg that Jeff Reed had for Pittsburgh, but Suisham displayed fine tackling form and made a beeline for Webb when he was the last line of defense. By contrast, Reed never seemed to want to tackle opposing returners; kickoff coverage was a huge problem for the Steelers last season, and it seemed like Reed's reluctance to sacrifice his body was consistently a big part of that. (Sidenote: I can't believe Webb's name is Lardarius - ugh.)
  • I was really impressed with the Steelers' pass protection during their first drive, a 10-play, 80-yard series that culminated in a Rashard Mendenhall touchdown plunge to give Pittsburgh an early lead. They ran max protect from the shotgun, with tight end Heath Miller and a running back in the backfield on 3rd-&-long, they formed a crisp pocket around quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in less obvious passing situations, and Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata were merely rumors. It was wonderful to see the Steelers' patchwork offensive line execute so dominantly.
  • In just one quarter of football, the Ravens have already run four screens: three to running backs and one to tight end Todd Heap. With a couple exceptions - Ray Rice's explosive 14-yard touchdown draw - these have been the only productive snaps for Joe Flacco and company, as they try to exploit Pittsburgh's aggressive tendencies on defense. We'll have to see what kind of adjustments Dick LeBeau makes throughout the game.
  • Even in pee-wee football, the first thing you learn is play to the whistle. After holding on to the ball for about six eons and pump-faking twice, Roethlisberger sustained a hit from Suggs that jarred the ball loose during the throw. Ramon Foster had the opportunity to dive on the ball, just to be safe, but he assumed the play was over and stood there staring at it instead. Cory Redding, defensive lineman for Baltimore, made a savvy veteran move, scooping up the ball and scrambling into the end zone. If Pittsburgh ends up losing by seven or less, they will only have themselves to blame after completely gift-wrapping that for Baltimore. Absolutely sickening.
  • After one quarter, the Ravens lead the way, 14-7 after scoring twice in 27 seconds. The Steelers and Ravens are just about even in total yards  - 50 and 66, respectively. The two squads have already combined for a total of six penalties for 106 yards.
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NFL Playoff Predictions: Ravens Vs. Steelers

As we prepare for Saturday’s matchup between AFC North archrivals, here’s a look at what everyone is predicting. Most writers appear to like the Steelers in this one, but a fair number have picked the Ravens. (And unsurprisingly, the one Pittsburgh writer we mention here picks the Steelers, while most of the Baltimore writers pick the Ravens.) One thing just about everyone agrees on, though, is that it will be close, like many Ravens/Steelers games of recent vintage.

Sports Illustrated: Steelers 20, Ravens 13.

If the Ravens were smart, they’d send Stallworth deep five times Saturday, if only to stretch the Pittsburgh secondary and expose their corners. I say Roethlisberger, even pressured, makes three or four more plays than Flacco, and that’s the difference here.

Baltimore Sun: Four writers pick the Ravens, while two pick the Steelers. All pick close games.

The Ravens revived their offense against the Kansas City Chiefs, but the Steelers are a much tougher opponent to crack. The bye week and home crowd are enough to propel the Steelers to a close victory.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Steelers 17, Ravens 13.

So many variables are at play. The game could boil down to a late kick on a cruddy field. It could turn on an anonymous player’s mistake, the way the ‘08 title game nearly did on Limas Sweed’s drop and ultimately did on an idiotic personal foul by Baltimore’s Daren Stone.

Most people expect it to look a lot like the biggest games the Steelers and Ravens have played. That’s the problem if you’re Baltimore.

SB Nation Denver: Steelers 24, Ravens 17.

Can Joe Flacco perform well enough to overcome Pittsburgh’s 12th-rated pass defense? SB Nation Pittsburgh has found that the Steelers’ defense has kept Flacco quiet for the most part since he entered the league. Both teams have solid running backs in Ray Rice and Rashard Mendenhall, but the Steelers have the No. 1 rush defense and the Ravens No. 5. This game will come down to which quarterback can come out on top. Ben Roethlisberger is my choice.

FanHouse: Ravens 23, Steelers 13.

The Steelers’ weakness is in the middle of their zones, a place teams don’t want to venture because Pittsburgh can cause some bodily harm. Ravens tight end Todd Heap injured his hamstring on the first play of the game in their second matchup, which hurt the Ravens’ plans after Heap was successful in the first meeting in the middle of the field. Fullback Le’Ron McClain missed the second game as well after suffering an ankle injury. McClain is back and he will be huge for pass protection, Heap will be helpful on mismatches over the middle and wide receiver Donte Stallworth may be the ultimate X factor if he is used to go deep, which will create opportunities for Flacco to deliver the ball.

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NFL Playoff Schedule: Ravens Vs. Steelers, Packers Vs. Falcons, Seahawks Vs. Bears, Jets Vs. Patriots

I believe I posted this week’s NFL playoff schedule once it became clear after last week’s games, but now seems like a good time to revisit it. The Ravens and Steelers face off in the first game this week, on Saturday at 4:30 at Heinz Field (CBS). The late game on Saturday will be at 8:00 in the Georgia Dome (FOX), and it will feature the Packers and Falcons.

On Sunday, the NFC has the early game, as the Seahawks face the Bears in Chicago at 1:00 (FOX). If the Steelers do manage to beat the Ravens, they’ll look to the late game between the Jets and Patriots at 4:30 in New England (CBS), as they’ll face the winner in the AFC championship.

There are only seven games left in the NFL season, so let’s see if the Steelers can make this one count. The Steelers are favored by three and a half points. SB Nation Pittsburgh’s divisional round picks post is here.

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Ravens Vs. Steelers: Aaron Smith Out

Scott Brown at the Trib reports that defensive end Aaron Smith will be out against the Ravens. This comes as no surprise – Smith was listed as doubtful, and although the goal since he was injured back in October was to get him back in time for the later part of the season or the playoffs, there have never really been the positive signs that might indicate that would actually happen. Smith had an MRI on his triceps today, but it doesn’t sound like it matters what the results are – he won’t play in either case.

Coach Mike Tomlin sounds hopeful that Smith will be ready this week if the Steelers beat the Ravens, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. It’s a shame – it would have been great to have him back.

In other injury news, Troy Polamalu and Bryant McFadden are both listed as probable. There is every indication that Polamalu will play, and both he and McFadden fully participated in practice on Thursday.

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Steelers Vs. Ravens: Audio Interviews To Get You Ready For The Big Game

We’re less than 48 hours away from kickoff between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. Terrell Suggs has made it known what he feels about Pittsburgh. And I’m sure the Steelers have plenty of choice words themselves, only they’re keeping them said behind closed doors.

While we wait for Saturday afternoon’s action, here’s a number of radio interviews to get you even more excited. We’ll hear from players on both squads.

Bryant McFadden on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh -

Brett Keiseil with Tunch & Wolf on 970 ESPN in Pittsburgh

Terrell Suggs with Mike & Mike on ESPN Radio

Chris Carr with Vinnie & Cook on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh

Derrick Mason with Norris & Davis on 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore

Sam Koch with WNST in Baltimore (scroll down through Jan 13th interviews)

For more Steelers coverage, analysis and fan discussion, drop by Behind the Steel Curtain.

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Ravens Vs. Steelers: Terrell Suggs Gives Steelers The Finger

The Ravens and Steelers keep finding new ways to animate their rivalry. Yesterday, it was the Ravens’ Terrell Suggs wearing a t-shirt with “Hey Pittsburgh” at the top and a giant purple hand flipping the bird. (You can see a picture here.)

“When we go down there, they always hit us with the No. 1s,” Suggs said Wednesday. “I don’t know how they [Ravens fans] act here because I’ll be in the locker room by the time all the fans get here. I’m pretty sure we be hitting them with the No. 1s. It’s whatever, man, it’s whatever. We’re just going to go play a football game.”

This is pretty silly. And kind of cool. It has seemed particularly clear this year that the Ravens and Steelers don’t really hate each other. They love the idea of hating each other. That’s how we get stuff like this, or John Harbaugh saying he was glad the Ravens broke Ben Roethlisberger’s nose, while expressing respect to Roethlisberger for playing through it. Or Suggs defending James Harrison against the NFL’s arbitrary fines. Or this from Roethlisberger:

“I hate playing these guys because they are so good, especially on defense,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday. “As a competitor, I like playing against them because they are the best.”

When these two teams are on the field, I’m sure they don’t like each other much. But deep down, members of both teams sound like they know it’s good for their team that the other exists.

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NFL Playoffs, Steelers Vs. Ravens: Pittsburgh's Defense Owns Joe Flacco

The Pittsburgh Steelers simply own Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. Granted, like pretty much every statistical claim about the NFL, we're dealing with a very small sample here, and three of Flacco's seven career games against the Steelers came in his rookie year, when you expect most quarterbacks to experience growing pains - especially against what ended up being a Super Bowl defense in 2008.

What's more, Flacco had a pretty great year in 2010, by just about any measurement. He completed nearly 63 percent of his passes at 7.4 yards per attempt and posted a nice TD:INT ratio of 2.5. Flacco's regular season quarterback rating on the year was 93.6. He's clearly made strides toward becoming the kind of quarterback that could give Pittsburgh's defense fits in the future.

But the Ravens need him to be that guy now.

What I'm saying isn't that Flacco can't  or won't have a good showing against the Steelers this Saturday, when the divisional rivals clash for a chance to play in the AFC Championship game. What I'm saying is that he hasn't yet. Check out Flacco's game log against the Steelers:

Comp. Attempts % Yards YPA TD INT Sacked Fumbles
Week 4, 2008 16 31 51.6 192 6.19 1 0 5 2
Week 15, 2008 11 28 39.3 115 4.11 0 2 2 1
AFC Championship, 2008 13 30 43.3 141 4.70 0 3 3 0
Week 12, 2009 23 35 65.7 289 8.26 1 0 5 2
Week 16, 2009 13 25 52.0 166 6.64 2 1 4 1
Week 4, 2010 24 37 64.9 256 6.92 1 1 1 1
Week 13, 2010 17 33 51.5 266 8.06 1 0 4 1

So in seven contests against the Black & Gold, Flacco has accumulated a mere 204 yards per game at 6.5 yard per attempt. He's completed just 53.4 percent of his passes and has a TD:INT ratio of 0.86. Perhaps the most telling statistics, in my opinion, show how Pittsburgh's pass rush has consistently gotten to Flacco. They average almost 3.5 sacks and more than one Flacco fumble per game.

Clearly the Ravens don't need Flacco to perform against the Steelers like Tom Brady did in Week 10 to secure a Baltimore victory. (After all, two of the above seven games were Ravens wins.) Nonetheless, expect good things from a Steelers defense that's well-rested and hungry to advance to their second conference championship in the last three years.

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Steelers Vs. Ravens: AFC Divisional Round Game Capsules

It's the best modern rivalry in the NFL if you ask me. Every time the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers line up and go after it, the intensity is high, the hitting is hard, and the outcome is in doubt until the final minutes. So perhaps it would be a bit more befitting if these two AFC North rivals were meeting in the AFC Championship Game, but the stakes are still plenty high when they meet at Heinz Field on Saturday afternoon. Like we do every week, here's your game capsule, replete with series history information, team stats, and other facts, figures and trends to help you get ready for the big game.

 

BALTIMORE RAVENS-AFC NORTH (13-4) AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS-AFC NORTH (12-4)

 

SERIES

 

RAVENS

STEELERS

LEADER (REG. SEASON)

 

18-12

STREAKS (REG. SEASON)

 

4 of past 6

COACHES VS. OPP.

(REG. & POSTSEASON)

Harbaugh: 2-5

Tomlin: 6-3

COACHES PLAYOFF RECORD

4-2

3-1

VS. COMMON OPP.

(REG. SEASON)

Bal.: 9-3 (Atl. 0-1, Buf. 1-0, Car. 1-0, Cin. 1-1, Cle. 2-0, Mia. 1-0, NE 0-1, NO 1-0,

NYJ 1-0, TB 1-0)

Pit.: 9-3 (Atl. 1-0, Buf., 1-0, Car. 1-0, Cin. 2-0, Cle. 2-0, Mia. 1-0, NE. 0-1, NO 0-1,

NYJ 0-1, TB 1-0)

PLAYOFF RECORD

9-5

31-19

LAST WEEK

W 30-7 at Chiefs

Bye (Wk. 17: W 41-9 at Browns)

LAST GAME (REG. SEASON)

12/5/10: Steelers 13 at Ravens 10. Pittsburgh scores 10 4th-quarter points to erase 10-3 deficit, including 9-yard TD pass to RB Isaac Redman from QB Ben Roethlisberger.

LAST GAME AT SITE

(REG. SEASON)

10/3/10: Ravens 17, Steelers 14. Baltimore QB Joe Flacco completes game-winning 18-yard TD pass to WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh with 32 seconds remaining.

LAST PLAYOFF

1/18/09: Ravens 14 at Steelers 23. Pittsburgh S Troy Polamalu's 40-yard INT-TD with 4:24 to play in 4th quarter helps seal AFC Championship victory.

BROADCAST

CBS (4:30 PM ET): Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf. Westwood One Radio: Dave Sims, James Lofton, Steve Tasker (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 124 (WW1), 125 (Bal.), 123 (Pit.). XM: 124 (WW1), 103 (Bal.), 102 (Pit.).

 

REGULAR SEASON STAT LEADERS

PASSING

Flacco: 306-489-3,622-25-10-93.6

Roethlisberger: 240-389-3,200-17-5-97.0 (3C)

RUSHING

Rice: 307-1,220-4.0-5

Mendenhall: 324-1,273-3.9-13 (T2L)

RECEIVING

Boldin: 64-837-13.1-7

Wallace: 60-1,257 (3C)-21.0-10 (T3C)

OFFENSE

322.9

345.3

TAKE/GIVE

+7

+17 (2L)

DEFENSE

    318.9

    276.8 (2L)

SACKS

Suggs: 11

Harrison: 10.5

INTs

E. Reed: 8 (1L)

Polamalu: 7 (T2L)

PR

Webb: 9.5

Brown: 5.8

KR

D. Reed (R): 29.3 (1L)

Sanders: 25.1

PUNTING

Koch: 43.6

Kapinos: 41.9

KICKING

Cundiff: 117 (39/39 PAT; 26/29 FG)

Suisham: 61 (19/19 PAT; 14/15 FG)

 

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NFL Playoffs - Terrell Suggs: 'Ravens Vs. Steelers Is The Super Bowl'

Apparently, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs is confused about the when/where/who of Super Bowl XLV. Or maybe I am. I thought it was on Sunday, February 6th, in Dallas, between two as-of-yet-undecided NFL teams.

But no. According to Suggs, his Ravens will battle the Steelers for the Lombardi Trophy this Saturday, in Pittsburgh:

"In my opinion, these two teams are the best...in the NFL. Anyone will argue that the winner of this game will most likely go on to win the Super Bowl."

"Anyone," Suggs? I think the New England Patriots, New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, and yeah, even the Seattle Seahawks might beg to differ. Suggs, who in calling the forthcoming rubber match between the two AFC North titans "Armageddon," has never been one to shy away from hyperbole, but I think he really believes this one. I guess to some extent, it's a savvy claim. If you boast like that and win, maybe it gives the guys in your locker room an additional boost of confidence. And if you lose, well, at least you made it to the Super Bowl...

...kind of.

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Ravens Vs. Steelers: John Harbaugh "Glad" Baltimore Broke Ben Roethlisberger's Nose (VIDEO)

There was a pretty delicious sound bite in John Harbaugh's Monday press conference regarding the last time his Ravens matched up against the Steelers, a nail-biter of a Pittsburgh win in Week 13 that was ultimately the difference in determining the AFC North championship. The Baltimore head coach said he was happy that his team broke Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's nose, which sounds a little too sadistic, until you hear it in context:

"[Roethlisberger]’s a tough guy...I was glad we broke his nose. And then I was very impressed that he played through it, you know? Obviously, you can throw very effectively with a broken nose. He proved that. We’re going to try to get after him like we always do [on Saturday]. He knows that ... that’s the key to stopping him: you’ve got to get him down. You can’t let him extend plays, and when he does ... you’ve got to cover [his receivers]. And that’s easier said than done."

What I love about this quote is that it perfectly embodies the Steelers-Ravens rivalry. These are divisional opponents who hate hate hate each other, yet there's obviously a tremendous amount of respect there. You have to love that, no matter who you're pulling for this weekend.

And now I'll leave you with a video of the hit - courtesy of defensive tackle Haloti Ngata - that left Roethlisberger's nose hanging off his face. You know, just in case, like Harbaugh, you enjoy that kind of thing:  

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NFL Playoffs, Steelers Vs. Ravens: Troy Polamalu Limited In Practice Approaching AFC Divisional Playoff Matchup

Following their well-deserved, much-needed bye week in the first round of the NFL playoffs, the Pittsburgh Steelers eye a familiar opponent in the aptly named divisional round of the postseason: the Baltimore Ravens. Saturday afternoon's AFC North brawl will mark the second time in three years that the two teams have clashed in the playoffs. During the regular season, the two squads each won on one other's fields, though it's worth mentioning that Baltimore was unable to best Pittsburgh with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger under center.

The first bit of news out of Pittsburgh is that safety Troy Polamalu will be limited in practice this week after taking the entire bye off with an Achilles injury that kept him off the field at various points this year. He was able to go in Week 17, though, so hopefully he'll be close to 100% when Baltimore comes to town. Defensive end Aaron Smith, who's been out for months with a torn triceps, will not play on Saturday, but could suit up for the AFC championship, should the Steelers advance to next week.

On the other side of the AFC playoff picture, the New York Jets will visit Foxboro for another shot at the red-hot New England Patriots, in keeping with the "divisional" theme of this weekend. These AFC East teams split their regular season slate, as well, which culminated in the Pats dismantling the Jets 45-3 on national television early in December.

Steelers fans will of course be rooting for New York, who could force an AFC championship game at Heinz Field if they bounce back and upset the Patriots and Pittsburgh handles the Ravens. Notably, the three remaining AFC squads are among the four teams in the league that beat Pittsburgh in the regular season. However, no one did so as convincingly as the Patriots; it would be nice for the Steelers to avoid a trip to Foxboro.

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