Click here to view a slideshow of the Ravens battle against the Steelers.

The Baltimore Ravens dropped a 31-24 nail-biter against their arch-rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, in the AFC divisional round on Jan. 15 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, ending their season.

The Steelers bounced back from a 21-7 halftime deficit to outscore the Ravens, 24-3, in the second half of the game. The score was tied at 24 with only three minutes left in the game, but two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did what fans have come to expect from him, leading Pittsburgh to a game-winning touchdown.

Pittsburgh will now advance to the AFC Championship for the fourth time in seven years, and will face the winner of the Jan. 16 matchup between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots.

The Steelers sealed win over Baltimore when…
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco tossed a 19-yard pass up the right sideline to T.J. Houshmandzadeh on 4th down and 18, but the 10-year veteran receiver dropped the pass. Baltimore had no timeouts left, and Pittsburgh simply kneeled on the ball to drain the game clock and advance to the AFC title game.

Outstanding Player of the Game:

Roethlisberger has a 9-2-career record against the Ravens, in part because he always finds a way to make a big offensive play against Baltimore late in the games. Roethlisberger completed 19 of 32 passes for 226 yards, two touchdowns and achieved a passer rating of 101.8.

Roethlisberger found tight end Heath Miller and veteran receiver Hines Ward for touchdowns, and also made a huge 58-yard pass to Antonio Brown on 3rd down and 20 that set up the eventual game-winning touchdown by Steelers tailback Rashard Mendenhall.

“It’s Ben,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said of his quarterback. “He is capable of producing plays…he is a competitor and a winner. And those guys follow him.”

Unsung Players of the Game:
Proven Steelers players Miller and Ward caught the touchdowns for their team, but it was Pittsburgh’s rookie receivers that overachieved in the biggest game for the team this year. Antonio Brown caught three passes for 75 yards, while fellow rookie Emmanuel Sanders caught four passes for 54 yards. The pair combined to lead Pittsburgh in receptions and receiving yards, each catch advancing the Steelers to a first down.

More Game Notes:
Flacco failed to follow up on his impressive performance against the Kansas City Chiefs last week. The third-year veteran quarterback finished with only 125 passing yards, one touchdown, one interception and a passer rating of 61.1. His star teammate Ray Rice rushed for only 32 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries.

Despite the high number of points scored, this was a classic defensive battle between the Ravens and Steelers. Pittsburgh recorded just 263 offensive yards, while Baltimore struggled even more, racking up just 126 yards. Both teams landed heavy blows throughout the game, but in the final round, Pittsburgh landed the knockout punch.

“Those teams are Haglar and Hearns right there,” Tomlin said. “It was a great game of football.”

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said the team has no regrets about their performance against the Steelers.

“I don’t think we have too much time for regrets,” Harbaugh said, who has led Baltimore to three straight playoff appearances. “I’m proud of our football team. I’m grateful for the opportunity to play in a football game like this and be a part of this.”

“All you can do is take a shot at being great,” Harbaugh added. “Our guys did that all year. We just weren’t great enough today to win the football game.”

 

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor