Saturday, January 15, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Steelers 31, Ravens 24
By James Walker
PITTSBURGH -- Here are some early thoughts on the Pittsburgh Steelers' 31-24 divisional-round playoff victory over the Baltimore Ravens:
What it means: The Ravens and Steelers staged another classic game in this heated rivalry, as Pittsburgh overcame a 14-point deficit in the second half. An unbelievable, 58-yard pass on third-and-19 to rookie Antonio Brown proved to be the difference. Brown beat Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb on the play. Pittsburgh broke the tie in the season series to advance to next week's AFC Championship Game. The Steelers will play the winner of Sunday's game between the New England Patriots and New York Jets. For the Ravens, another quality season is over. This is the second time in three years Baltimore lost in the playoffs to Pittsburgh.
What I liked: After a slow start, the Steelers played extremely well in the second half and that was the difference. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (226 yards, two touchdowns) had another solid playoff game, with his late connection to Brown being the biggest play. Pittsburgh's defense also battered and confused Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco in the third and fourth quarters. After a week of trash talk, Ravens Pro Bowl defensive end/linebacker Terrell Suggs backed it up with another tremendous performance. He had three sacks, including a forced fumble on Roethlisberger that led to Cory Redding's 13-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
What I didn't like: The Ravens took a two-touchdown lead into the second half, but quickly allowed Pittsburgh back into the game with sloppy play. Flacco had another poor playoff outing. He threw for 125 yards, one touchdown and had a key fumble and an interception in the second half. Both teams, in fact, were careless with the football. There were four fumbles and five turnovers overall.
What's next: The Steelers will wait for the Jets and Patriots to play to find out the location of next week’s playoff game. If New York wins, Heinz Field will be the site of the AFC title game. If the Patriots win, the Steelers are heading to Gillette Stadium, where the winner will advance to Super Bowl XLV. Both games would be rematches from the regular season, when the Steelers suffered home losses to New England and New York.