View Full Version : Steelers-Ravens rematch will be most vicious playoff game

01-09-2011, 09:52 PM
Rematch of AFC North Foes Will Be Most Vicious NFL Divisional Playoff Game

Todd Jacobs, Yahoo! Contributor Network
Jan 9, 2011


The Pittsburgh Steelers will host NFL Wild Card Playoffs Weekend winners the Baltimore Ravens January 15th. The Baltimore Ravens systematically destroyed the Kansas City Chiefs offensive mastermind Charlie Weis in an impressive defensive display by Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and the entire Baltimore Ravens defensive unit.

The Pittsburgh Steelers banged up players on offense and defense have had time to recover with a week off as the number two seed in the AFC. The NFL Divisional Playoffs match up between these two teams will feature two teams that are very familiar with each other and have played to three point or less deficits in the last four games.

Pittsburgh Steelers Offense vs Baltimore Ravens Defense

The Baltimore Ravens defense is not the best defense in the NFL but they are one of the most vicious teams in the league. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are not only talented against the pass they are the best at delivering bone jarring hits to separate their opponents from the ball.

Run defense is still the strong suit of this Baltimore Ravens defense but they are vulnerable to the long ball. Ed Reed could be pulled out of his usual deep middle coverage by having to give safety help on speedy Pittsburgh Steelers wide out Mike Wallace. Watch this match up closely.

Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers offense will need to kick into gear for the NFL Divisional Playoffs. Roethlisberger has struggled to involve his entire offense and spread the ball effectively on offensive drives this season. The Pittsburgh Steelers running game is better than it was at the beginning of the NFL season but it is still not consistent.

Mike Wallace is the one of the best deep threats in the NFL and the reason the Pittsburgh Steelers let Santanio Holmes go to the New York Jets. Hines Ward is still one of the best possession receivers in the NFL and Rashard Mendenhall has improved his running game as the season has progressed. The Pittsburgh Steelers offense has the edge over the Baltimore Ravens defense.

Pittsburgh Steelers Defense vs Baltimore Ravens Offense

Defense is the reason the Pittsburgh Steelers are in the NFL Divisional Playoffs and Troy Polamalu is the key motor to this hard hitting aggressive unit. James Harrison and LaMaar Woodley are big pieces in the Pittsburgh Steelers defense but when Polamalu is on the shelf this defense has suffered.

The Pittsburgh Steelers run defense is the best in the NFL and they are holding runners to less than 65 yards per game as they enter the NFL Divisional Playoffs. The Pittsburgh Steelers one weakness on defense is their corners. They are giving up 228 yards per game through the air and they have been known to give up the big play on defense.

Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens offense stepped up against the Kansas City Chiefs defense led by five time Super Bowl defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. Now Flacco, Ray Rice and company will face the best defense in the NFL.

The last two games between these two teams the score was 13-10 with the teams splitting the series. This game will follow the destructive pattern of these two teams and it will be smash mouth football for 60 minutes. The Pittsburgh Steelers defense has the edge over the Baltimore Ravens offense.

Baltimore Ravens vs Pittsburgh Steelers -3.5: Pick Against the Spread & Breakdown

The Las Vegas Hilton Superbook has made the Pittsburgh Steelers a favorite over the visiting Baltimore Ravens for the NFL Divisional Playoffs battle. Battle is the correct word for this game and it will be a brutal battle as always between these two AFC North teams. The Baltimore Ravens are 9-6-1 against the spread overall and they are 5-3-1 against the spread on the road.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 10-6 against the spread overall in the regular season and they finished the season 5-3 against the spread in their home Heinz Field. Ben Roethlisberger has struggled but is a different quarterback in front of his home crowd. Take the Pittsburgh Steelers -3.5 points over the Baltimore Ravens.


01-09-2011, 10:18 PM
A Ravens-Steelers trilogy is 'poetic justice'

January, 9, 2011
By James Walker


Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
After dispatching the Chiefs, Ravens linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs will take on division rivals Pittsburgh.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Nothing against the AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs, but the only team that got a rise out of the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday was the AFC North champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

Moments after Baltimore crushed and humiliated the Chiefs 30-7 at Arrowhead Stadium, you had the sense the Ravens were well prepared to field questions about their most-hated rival. Baltimore knew ahead of time that a wild-card win would set up another classic trilogy between the Ravens and Steelers, which will be the second time it has happened in the past three seasons.

"Here we go again," Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said with a smile on his face. "I told you guys earlier in the year, man, that it's something [special] about the journey."

"It seems like poetic justice," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.

As Harbaugh alluded, it's only fitting that these rivals settle their differences in the playoffs with both of their seasons on the line. There has been a lot of debate all season about which division team is truly better. The teams split two regular-season meetings and each finished 12-4. Pittsburgh won the tiebreaker and a coveted bye because it had a better division record.

But Saturday at Heinz Field there will be no excuses. The top division team will advance to the AFC title game and a shot at Super Bowl XLV.

"This is the NFL at its best," Ravens Pro Bowl defensive end Terrell Suggs said. "This is what the world wants to see. They want to see Baltimore and Pittsburgh."

On Sunday, Baltimore continued its stellar run the past three seasons in the wild-card round. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Harbaugh is the second NFL coach to win a playoff game in each of his first three seasons, joining former Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer. The Ravens own convincing wild-card wins over the Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and Kansas City in three consecutive seasons.

Baltimore also improved to 7-3 all time on the road in the playoffs and is arguably this year's most dangerous wild-card team, especially when the defense is playing at a Super Bowl level. The Ravens' defense the past two weeks forced 10 turnovers and allowed only 14 points. Kansas City had no answers for Baltimore after committing three interceptions, fumbling twice and allowing three sacks of quarterback Matt Cassel, who was battered and confused. He passed for only 70 yards, one of the worst passing performances in playoff history.

The Ravens said they were inspired by Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed, who played with a heavy heart Sunday. His younger brother, Brian, was reported missing this weekend and police called off the search in Louisiana. Brian Reed apparently jumped into the Mississippi River after being confronted by a deputy sheriff in response to a stolen car report.

"What the Reed family is going through is a big part of this victory. That's what will be remembered by our players," Harbaugh said. "The Reed family is part of the Raven family, and the Raven family is part of the Reed family. That's the way it works with our team, our organization."

Reed had four tackles, including a big hit on Chiefs receiver Dexter McCluster, and received a game ball afterward.

"Who is a better teammate than Ed Reed?" Suggs said. "He didn't have to play today, but he played. And it was the simple fact that we wanted to give him three hours of peace to just go out there and have fun with your football brothers, and we did that."

The Ravens must be at their best again next week. The Steelers are well rested and franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 8-2 in his career against Baltimore, including six straight victories. Baltimore pulled off a rare win at Heinz Field in October, but that was during the final game of Roethlisberger's four-game suspension.

But there could be good karma for the AFC North. The last time these teams met in the playoffs was in the 2008 AFC Championship Game, and Pittsburgh advanced to win Super Bowl XLIII over the Arizona Cardinals.

The winner of this year's rivalry game will face the winner of the New York Jets and Patriots from the AFC East. Both divisional-round games involve teams that split the first two meetings in the regular season.

"It's Armageddon for all four teams, and there can only be one winner at the end," Suggs said. "What better teams than these four?"

Without a doubt, next weekend is going to be brutal in the AFC.

Perhaps the biggest question is, will any of these teams have anything left for the AFC Championship Game?


Discipline of Steel
01-09-2011, 10:22 PM
This is really going to be a great game, I cant wait.

01-09-2011, 11:18 PM
This is really going to be a great game, I cant wait.

this game could be one for the ages...seriously, it doesn't get much better than having the opportunity to eliminate your hated division rival. :ratsuck


01-09-2011, 11:19 PM
A "two chin strap" kind of game.



01-09-2011, 11:48 PM
NOTHING will ever top the brutality of Steelers/Raiders AFC title game II.

By far the most brutal game I have ever watched.

01-10-2011, 12:10 AM
let Revenge Tour 2011 begin.

First Up-Baltimore.

What's Bens record against The Ravens again?

01-10-2011, 12:23 AM
That would be 8-2.

01-10-2011, 12:51 AM
This game will set an official Roger Goodell all-time fine record.

01-10-2011, 12:57 AM
This game will set an official Roger Goodell all-time fine record.

just as long as no one gets suspended

01-10-2011, 01:07 AM
It will be the Ravens

By Bob Labriola - Steelers Digest
http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/ ... c70bf45d33 (http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/It-will-be-the-Ravens/5ecfc710-d417-45e1-a17f-56c70bf45d33)


DATE: Saturday, Jan. 15
TIME: 4:30 p.m.
SITE: Heinz Field

Ravens’ record: 13-4
Steelers’ record: 12-4
Series record (including playoffs): Steelers lead, 20-12

Steelers: Bye, as the AFC’s No. 2 seed
Ravens: Defeated Kansas City, 30-7

Ever since Coach John Harbaugh’s rookie season ended with a loss to the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game at Heinz Field, the expectation has been that the Ravens would take the next step and advance to the Super Bowl. It hasn’t happened yet, and if there is something to say about not being able to win a division title and earn the home playoff games that come with that, this also is a team unfazed by having to go on the road in the playoffs. In 2008, the Ravens won twice on the road before falling at Heinz Field. In 2009, they went to Foxborough and became the only team to beat the Patriots with Tom Brady at quarterback in the last 31 outings, and the score was a decisive 33-14. And it was a physical beating the Ravens put on the Chiefs last Sunday in the Wild Card round to advance to Heinz Field. A game against the Ravens is physical and violent, a lot of hard work even by NFL standards, and nobody knows that better than the Steelers.

It seems as though this will be the critical area for this team throughout these playoffs. Can this offense generate enough points to complement a defense that might not be as dominant as in the recent past but still is the heart of this team? The pieces are in place, but the results of late haven’t been what any team is going to need to win a championship. And the natives are growing restless.

According to a story written by Mike Preston that appeared in The Baltimore Sun, “(I)f you look closely at this team, this is a sensitive time. The lackluster offense is close to causing some division, because a poor offense keeps gassing a good defense. Fullback Le’Ron McClain voiced his displeasure earlier this week, and a defensive tackle complained about the offensive coordinator at halftime (of the regular season finale against Cincinnati) loud enough to be heard by other team officials.”

What do the Ravens want to be on offense? In that playoff win over the Patriots a year ago, the Ravens rushed for 234 yards, with Ray Rice accounting for 155 on 22 attempts to go along with a couple of touchdowns. In keeping with the theme of the importance of running the ball vs. an opponent with a great quarterback, the Ravens used 153 yards and a touchdown from Rice to defeat Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in Week 15 of 2010.

But the passing attack has not taken the next step that was envisioned when the team added Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth during the offseason, and as the Ravens entered the playoffs there was some frustration over this. The return of Todd Heap from injury could open things up for the guys on the outside, and he was a big factor in the win over the Chiefs.

“For us, we’ve just got to go out there and make it work,” said WR Derrick Mason. “I guess that has to be the theme of the playoffs -- whatever is being called, we have to make it work. We can no longer point the finger. We’ve got to make it work as an offensive unit. There are no more excuses, because excuses are going to get you beat. The teams that make excuses are going to have to sit at home next week, so we can’t make any more excuses. Whatever play is called, we’ve got to make it work … Whatever it is, we have to make it work.”

Rushing: Ray Rice (307 att; 1,220 yds; 4.0 avg; 5 TDs)

Passing: Joe Flacco (489 att; 306 comp, 62.6 pct; 3,622 yds; 25 TDs; 10 INTs; 93.6 rtg)

Receiving: Anquan Boldin (64 rec; 837 yds; 13.1 avg; 7 TDs)

There doesn’t really need to be a lot said here. Judging this Ravens defense against some of the franchise’s previous units can leave the current one lacking, but that has nothing to do with whether it’s good enough to win a championship. The Ravens have just one big-time pass rusher, but Terrell Suggs can dominate a football game. The cornerbacks aren’t when they were back in the days of Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle, but Ed Reed led the team with eight interceptions despite missing the first six games of the season because of a hip injury. And if their defensive line isn’t as deep as it once was, well, Haloti Ngata is one of the NFL’s best players at his position.

And they still have Ray Lewis, a man who has been the face of that franchise for over a decade. “It's just about being a swarming defense. Anytime you have a swarming defense, you're going to have turnover possibilities. That's a credit to the way we practice, to what we feel about each other. And that is never let another man see you loafing on the field.”

Tackles: Ray Lewis 139

Sacks: Terrell Suggs 11

Interceptions: Ed Reed 8

This is an underrated part of the Ravens’ success this season, and they can thank the Dallas Cowboys for one of their primary weapons here. Dallas cut PK Billy Cundiff, and he won a training camp battle for the position with the Ravens. In addition to being reliable with field goals, Cundiff also led the NFL with 40 touchbacks during the regular season. When you combine that with a punter in Sam Koch who finished with 39 kicks inside the 20-yard line, the Ravens can complement their rugged defense nicely.

Scoring: Billy Cundiff (39-39 PAT; 26-29 FG; 49 long; 117 pts)

Punting: Sam Koch (81 punts; 43.6 avg; 4 TB; 39 In 20; 39.2 net)

Punt returns: Lardarius Webb (21 ret; 199 yds; 9.5 avg; 35 long; 0 TDs)

Kickoff returns: David Reed (21 ret; 616 yds; 29.3 avg; 103 long; 1 TD)

01-10-2011, 01:10 AM
AFC playoff Q&A: Nothing rivals this
Ravens-Steelers, Jets-Patriots give divisional round a true divisional feel
http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs/ ... id=6005355 (http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs/2010/columns/story?columnist=clayton_john&id=6005355)

Clayton By John Clayton

Chiefs No Match For Ravens
Joe Flacco threw for two touchdowns in the Ravens' 30-7 win over the ChiefsTags: NFL, Fantasy NFL, Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Joe Flacco, AFC, Wild Card
Chiefs No Match For Ravens

The AFC truly enters the divisional phase of the playoffs next week. The two games are between divisional rivals.

But the great part is that the AFC divisional round matches two of the conference's best divisional rivals. The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens. The New York Jets and Rex Ryan get to call out the New England Patriots.

"What better than these four teams,'' Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "Everybody wanted to see this matchup [the Steelers and Ravens] because [the teams] split during the regular season. This is Armageddon for both teams.''

The Jets split with the Pats, with each team winning at home. The Ravens won at Heinz Field, but the Steelers came back and won in Baltimore. "It's personal between these two cities,'' Suggs said. "It shouldn't surprise you that these teams are at their throats. This is the NFL at its best.''

Here are the 10 biggest questions heading into what should be a memorable weekend of playoff football.

1. Is it rare to have division rivals meet again in the playoffs?

Divisional playoff rematches are becoming more and more common. Since 2000, divisional rivals have met again in the playoffs 17 times. Last year, the Dallas Cowboys beat the Philadelphia Eagles 34-14, completing a three-game season sweep of Philly. Following the 2008 season, the Steelers beat the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game, 23-14, and went on to the Super Bowl to face the Arizona Cardinals. "Three-peats'' seem to happen in close divisions such as the AFC North and NFC East, particularly now that the league is broken into eight divisions. The reason is simple. Teams such as the Steelers and Ravens have had stability within their organizations and their rosters and are good enough to win opening-round playoff games to advance. A similar thing is happening in the AFC East now that Ryan is establishing a winning tradition with his Jets. There has been at least one divisional playoff rematch in every year since 2004.

2. What type of game should be expected between the Steelers and Ravens?

Get ready for old-school, hard-hitting football. Also expect a low-scoring game. Since 2007, the Ravens and Steelers have met eight times in the regular season with the scores averaging out to 18-17 in favor of the Steelers. The most points scored by one team in any one game was 27, accomplished by the Ravens -- a 27-21 victory in 2007. This game is personal, though. "I've lost to Ben Roethlisberger seven times,'' Suggs said. "He's definitely my biggest problem I'm facing.'' The key to these games is turnovers. Both defenses are designed to force turnovers. With another low-scoring game expected, the defense that wreaks the most havoc will likely push its team over the top.

3. What type of game should be expected between the Jets and Patriots?

For some reason, the Jets' defense doesn't do well in Foxborough, Mass., and it goes beyond Tom Brady's incredible ability to be successful at home. Ryan is 2-2 against the Patriots, with both his wins occurring at home. Those home games have been relatively low-scoring -- 28-14 this season and 16-9 last season. But Brady has carved up the Jets' defense in Foxborough. The Patriots blew out the Jets 45-3 this season. Last season, the Patriots won 31-14 at home. Part of the discrepancy is explained by the timing of the games. For the past two seasons, the Jets had the home game in September and could devote an entire offseason to preparing for the Patriots. The Patriots have done well in the rematch because they can study the Jets' tendencies, fix problems of their own from the first game and attack with the home crowd behind them. Bill Belichick is a master of adjustments and Brady is a master of everything. In his two home games against Ryan's defense, he completed 48 of 70 passes for 636 yards and five touchdowns. His quarterback ratings in those two games were 148.9 and 98.6.

4. What are the injury situations of the four teams?

All four teams are in pretty good shape. The Ravens came out of Sunday's 30-7 victory over the Chiefs without any problems. Safety Ed Reed played the whole game despite dealing with a chest injury and the situation of his missing brother. Suggs had no trouble with a knee injury that had him listed on the injury report as questionable. Safety Tom Zbikowski (back) and linebacker Tavares Gooden (shoulder) were inactive because of their injuries and might not be available. The Jets came out of Saturday's victory over the Indianapolis Colts with only Brad Smith's groin injury. Smith was able to come back to play in the second half. The Steelers probably won't have defensive end Aaron Smith (triceps), but the week off gave safety Troy Polamalu (ankle) more time to heal. He played the season finale against the Cleveland Browns. Backup halfback Mewelde Moore (knee) has had an extra week to heal after missing the finale. The Patriots cleaned up their injury list by placing defensive ends Ron Brace and Mike Wright on injured reserve. Guard Dan Connolly has had ample time to recover from a concussion.

5. What's the most interesting trend from the AFC's final four?

All four teams use the 3-4 defense, which may cause more teams to convert next season. The Houston Texans hired Wade Phillips to make them a 3-4, and the 3-4 is now the dominant defensive scheme in the AFC, which is why it's fitting the Steelers, Ravens, Jets and Patriots advanced. The Steelers are coming off one of the best run-stopping seasons in league history. They held running offenses to 68.8 yards per game. It has become apparent that 4-3 defenses that play most of the game in the Cover 2 are becoming beatable. Quarterbacks have become so sophisticated with what they can do in the middle of the field that they carve up Cover 2 teams. The 3-4 defenses, particularly those with the confusing blitz packages used by the Jets and the Ravens, can disrupt the rhythm of quarterbacks and cause them to make mistakes. The Steelers and Jets ranked second and third defensively. The Ravens were 10th. The Patriots were young and finished 25th, allowing 366.5 yards a game.

6. What are the key matchups in the Steelers-Ravens game?

What was very clear in the Ravens' victory over Kansas City is their lack of speed at wide receiver. They have major problems against defenses that play bump-and-run man defenses. The Bengals exposed that problem early in the season, and the Chiefs frustrated Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh on Sunday. Those three receivers have more than 600 career catches each, but they lack great separation skills in man-to-man coverage. The trio combined for only seven catches against the Chiefs. The good news for the Ravens is the Steelers are a zone team. The Jets probably would give the Ravens the most trouble of the four remaining AFC teams. One player to follow is Ravens TE Todd Heap. In the Ravens' Week 13 loss to Pittsburgh, coach John Harbaugh wanted to feature Heap, but he was injured in the first quarter and didn't play the rest of the game. Against the Chiefs, Joe Flacco found Heap 10 times for 108 yards.

7. What are the key matchups in the Jets-Patriots game?

Revis Island may not be a big factor because the Patriots love to spread the ball around so much. Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis is a master at taking away a team's best receiver. In the Jets' 17-16 win over the Colts, Revis held Reggie Wayne to one catch for 1 yard. To stop the Patriots, you need clones. Go back to the Patriots' 45-3 victory in Week 13. Brady got seven passes to Wes Welker for 80 yards and hit Deion Branch for 64 yards on three passes. Danny Woodhead, the former Jet, had 104 yards on four catches. The Patriots run the two-tight end offense a league-high 39.4 plays a game. Finding a safety to cover Aaron Hernandez won't be easy. Hernandez had three catches for 51 yards and a TD in Week 13. Jets safety Eric Smith had a great game against the Colts on Saturday; he might have to play even better against New England.

8. Which teams have the edge at quarterback?

The Patriots and Steelers not only have home-field advantage, but they have significant advantages at quarterback. Of the AFC final four quarterbacks, Mark Sanchez is the only one who isn't elite, but he's 3-1 in playoff games. Brady and Roethlisberger, though, are tough in these situations. Brady is 14-4 in the playoffs and averages 24.1 points a game. Roethlisberger is 8-2 as a playoff quarterback and averages 26.8 points a game. They also do well against divisional rivals. Brady has completed 62.9 percent of his passes, averages 218.9 yards a game, and has 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions in his 18 games against the Jets. Roethlisberger completes 57.5 percent of his passes, averages 210.2 yards a game, and has 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 10 games against the Ravens.

9. Why was there so much talk about turnovers after the Ravens' victory over the Chiefs?

Everyone is picking up on the Brady theme of not throwing interceptions. After the Ravens' victory, Ravens players talked about an 85 percent win factor when a team wins the turnover battle in the playoffs. All four teams are good in that regard. The Patriots are plus-28 in turnover ratio, the Steelers are plus-17, the Ravens are plus-7 and the Jets are plus-9. Brady is the best quarterback at protecting the ball. Flacco might be second. Instead of forcing throws that could have resulted in interceptions against the Chiefs, Flacco ran seven times and gained 26 yards and didn't throw any interceptions. During a postgame news conference, he mentioned running and threw in Michael Vick's name. When asked about the Vick comparison, Flacco joked, "One guy runs a 4.3 and the other guy runs a 5.3.'' Of the four remaining AFC quarterbacks, Sanchez and Roethlisberger are more prone to committing turnovers.

10. So what should happen?

It sure looks as though there could be a Steelers-Patriots AFC title game in Foxborough. Home-field advantage will be huge. The Steelers and Patriots have elite quarterbacks and home-field advantage. But playing division rivals is tricky. These teams know each other so well that the games should be close and feisty.

01-10-2011, 01:12 AM
Ravens gear up for Steelers after win
Sports Xchange
http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/Balt ... sis-010911 (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/Baltimore-Ravens-beat-Kansas-City-Chiefs-wild-card-win-analysis-010911)
Updated Jan 9, 2011 11:56 PM ET

The Baltimore Ravens are looking for redemption when they play the Pittsburgh Steelers in a divisional playoff game Saturday.

A month ago, the Ravens were three minutes from sweeping their biggest rival and gaining an inside track for a first-round bye. But a Joe Flacco fumble late in the fourth quarter led to a 13-10 loss to Pittsburgh.

Now, Baltimore is seeking payback by knocking the Steelers out of the playoffs.

"I think it's going to be World War III," safety Dawan Landry said. "The last one left a bad taste in our mouths."

The Steelers ended the Ravens' run as defending Super Bowl champions in January 2002 and beat the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game in January 2009.

"It's going to be a bloodbath," guard Ben Grubbs said, "a train wreck."

This sets up rivalry weekend in the AFC next weekend. The Ravens play at Pittsburgh, and the New York Jets head to New England.

"This is the NFL at its best," Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "This is what the world wants to see. This is Armageddon for all four teams, and there can only be one winner at the end."

The Ravens are rallying around the tragedy surrounding safety Ed Reed's brother.

In the locker room after the Ravens' 30-7 rout of the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, wide receiver Derrick Mason handed the game ball to Reed in memory of his brother, Brian Reed, who has been missing in Louisiana since police say he jumped into the Mississippi River to elude officers on Friday. Police called off the search a day before the game.

Reed held up the game ball as teammates huddled around him.

"My family would appreciate this and so would my brother," Reed said. "My brother would want us to beat Pittsburgh."

Several players said Reed will serve as motivation for this year's Super Bowl run.

"I told the guys (Saturday), 'Let's keep Ed on the field as long as possible because it gives him something to think about,' " Mason said. "When it's over, that's the hard part. Hopefully, he won't get off the field until February."

After waiting four years for a chance to appear in the playoffs and then seven years for the opportunity to play a home game, the Chiefs went out of the postseason almost as quickly as they came in.

With a squad that had minimal experience in January, the Chiefs' loss to the Ravens was a record-setting defeat for the Kansas City franchise, as it has now lost an NFL-record seven consecutive playoff games.

The Chiefs had just 22 players on their roster with postseason experience, compared to 42 for the Ravens. That imbalance was visible in the second half when the Chiefs self-destructed with turnovers, penalties and sacks of quarterback Matt Cassel.

"I don't feel like they are such a superior team to us that we didn't have an opportunity in this game," said Cassel, who struggled throughout the game and finished with a 20.4 passer rating. "We went into half at 10-7 (behind) and the game was in reach. In the second half, it was a lot of bad football on our part."

There's no mystery to that bad football. The Chiefs did all those things that will get a team beat, whether it's the preseason or the postseason. They were simply awful in the second half, being outscored 20-0 because they:

• Turned the ball over four times with three Cassel interceptions and a fumble by wide receive Dexter McCluster.
• Allowed three sacks, costing them 17 yards of offense and getting their quarterback bruised and battered.
• Committed four penalties for 39 yards.
• Converted one of six third downs on offense in the third and fourth quarters.

"We just didn't execute in the first half well enough," coach Todd Haley said. "We could have been in a much better situation. In the second half, we didn't execute a whole bunch. There were good things and there were bad things, and the bad things clearly outweighed the good things."

01-10-2011, 01:42 AM
found this on a Raven's message board, they are talking major trash over there about "watch out Pittsburgh" and they think they're all that after beating the mighty Chiefs and their 7-1 home record today... :roll:


01-10-2011, 06:36 AM
found this on a Raven's message board, they are talking major trash over there about "watch out Pittsburgh" and they think they're all that after beating the mighty Chiefs and their 7-1 home record today... :roll:


The Raiders gave them a worse whoopin' the week before.
The writing was on the wall.
The Chefs (Chiefs) were a classic one and done team. They're young and have a bright future as long as they get a better QB than career backup Cassell
POOP on the RAVENS!! :ratsuck

01-10-2011, 09:17 AM
Get ready for Joe Flacco to give the game away.

01-10-2011, 12:43 PM
This game will set an official Roger Goodell all-time fine record.

just as long as no one gets suspended

What are the chances that the team set to face NE in Foxboro will be facing a suspension or two? Couldn't be more than....50-50.

The '08 Steelers/Ravens playoff game if played today would probably lead to about $150K in fines and 3 or 4 suspensions. :lol:

NW Steeler
01-10-2011, 12:55 PM
I'm glad the Ravens won easily against the Chiefs. Let them come in talking sh!t and full of confidence. We have Ben, they have Flacco. Whose hands do you want the fate of your team in? Logic and history say this will be a tight game. But if we were EVER going to do it, let's lay it to those stinkin' Ratbirds!!!! GO STEELERS!!!!

:tt2 :tt1 :tt2 :tt1 :tt2 :tt1 :tt2 :tt1 :tt2 :tt1 :tt2 :tt1 :tt2 :tt1 :tt2 :tt1

01-10-2011, 01:37 PM
NOTHING will ever top the brutality of Steelers/Raiders AFC title game II.

By far the most brutal game I have ever watched.

I don't know about nothing ever topping it, but that game was the most brutal I ever saw also. Howie Long said it was his #1 yesterday. Jeez, two Ravens got knocked out on the opening kickoff; then it got really nasty.

Steel Life
01-10-2011, 01:58 PM
A Ravens-Steelers trilogy is 'poetic justice'
The Ravens said they were inspired by Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed, who played with a heavy heart Sunday. His younger brother, Brian, was reported missing this weekend and police called off the search in Louisiana. Brian Reed apparently jumped into the Mississippi River after being confronted by a deputy sheriff in response to a stolen car report.

"What the Reed family is going through is a big part of this victory. That's what will be remembered by our players," Harbaugh said. "The Reed family is part of the Raven family, and the Raven family is part of the Reed family. That's the way it works with our team, our organization."
Here's the funny thing...doesn't it strike anyone else as both appropriate that the Ravens are dedicating their win in part to someone who was in trouble with the police & odd that that no one sees this as hypocritical? As has been said on this board many times...thug players, thug organization.

01-10-2011, 03:01 PM
Updated: January 10, 2011, 1:26 PM ET

Terrell Suggs: Ravens ready for battle



Round 3 of Ravens vs. Steelers is Saturday. Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs said it's more like "World War 3" to the Ravens.

On Sunday, after the Ravens beat the Kansas City Chiefs 30-7 in an AFC wild-card game, Suggs said that the divisional-round matchup between the Ravens and Steelers is "personal between the two cities, Baltimore and Pittsburgh."

When asked to expound on his comment in an interview with "ESPN First Take" on Monday, Suggs said that for the Ravens, the matchup is taking on biblical proportions.

"This is World War 3 to us. This is definitely Armageddon," Suggs said.

The Ravens and Steelers split the two regular-season games in their bitter rivalry this season with Baltimore winning on the road 17-14 in Week 4 -- Pittsburgh's first loss -- and the Steelers winning at Baltimore 13-10 in Week 13 -- the Ravens' only loss at home this season.

Suggs said the "whole football world" is looking forward to seeing another "smash-mouth" battle between the two teams.

"We're like modern-day gladiators," he said.

Both teams finished 12-4 but the Steelers won the AFC North thanks to a better division record.

"We're very evenly matched. Two physical, fast, outstanding defenses," Suggs said. "Two very poised quarterbacks, except their quarterback [Ben Roethlisberger] may have an edge since he's got two rings, but we're working on getting Joe [Flacco] his first one this year."

Saturday's winner will advance to the AFC Championship Game against either the New England Patriots or New York Jets, who play on Sunday.

The Ravens are 7-3 all-time on the road in the playoffs and won't be intimidated playing in Pittsburgh for a second time this season.

"We're looking forward to walking into Heinz Field with a certain swagger," Suggs said.

Suggs said that swagger comes from the leadership of Baltimore's two longtime defensive stalwarts -- Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.

"When we get on the road we get the feeling it's us against the world. We've got the whole city of Baltimore behind us, but at that moment they're not there with us," Suggs said. "It's just us guys. Us 53 men. We're just trying to get a Super Bowl ring."


01-11-2011, 12:59 AM
Another Round of Bruises, Insults, Titles


Steelers, Ravens mix it up (Getty Images)
By Sports Xchange

Posted Jan 10, 2011

Division rivals, the Steelers and Ravens, will meet once again in the postseason as they had in 2001 and 2008. The Steelers won both games.

Fittingly, Pittsburgh and Baltimore will meet for a third time this season Saturday at Heinz Field to determine who advances to the AFC Championship Game.
The two teams have been trading bruises, insults and division championships for years as they dominated the AFC North (nee: Central) Division over the past decade. For the third time in the decade and second time in three seasons they will meet in the playoffs.

One or the other has won the division crown eight of the past 10 seasons.

"The Jets and the Patriots are great teams, but they're just getting started," Steelers receiver Hines Ward said back in December. "This has been going on for years. We play them two, sometimes three times a year, and every one of them comes down to the end. I'm sure we'll see them again in the playoffs."

The Steelers and Ravens have split their two regular-season games the past two seasons after Pittsburgh swept three games in 2008, including a victory in the AFC Championship Game on the way to their sixth Super Bowl victory.

Each of their past four games has been decided by three points and all seven have come down to the final minutes. The Ravens won in Pittsburgh on a last-minute drive, 17-14, on Oct. 3, and the Steelers returned the favor in Baltimore on a spectacular Troy Polamalu sack/fumble late in the game that set up their only touchdown to win, 13-10.

"We believe that's the No. 1 rivalry in football," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. "It's a humbling thing to be a part of ... We have big-time respect for that football team, they've earned it. Hopefully, we've earned their respect."

Pittsburgh has won both post-season games played against Baltimore, each at Heinz Field - a 2001 playoff and the 2008 AFC Championship Game.

The Steelers won six of the past 10 division titles and made the playoffs seven of the past 10 years. Baltimore has made the playoffs six of the past 10 years, including two division championships.

The teams have often mirrored each other - they have had two of the best defenses in football over the past decade and each like to think they love to run the ball.

"This could be the biggest rivalry in sports," Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs declared in December. "I think we passed the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees in baseball."

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had his nose broken during the last game in December but never missed a snap.

"One time after a play, I looked at (Suggs), and he was bleeding from the mouth," Roethlisberger said. "I was bleeding from the nose. That says it all about a Ravens-Steelers football game."

BY THE NUMBERS: Plus 14 - Steelers turnover ratio in 2010, a turnaround from 2009 when they were minus 3. "You take one away or you give one more, we could be a 3-13 team rather than a 12-4 team," safety Troy Polamalu said.

TRENDING: The return of Roethlisberger after his four-game suspension, the maturing of rookie receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, combined with better line play has helped the Steelers' passing game improve from an average of 181.9 net yards per game in the first half of the season to 268.3 yards in the final eight games.


* RB Rashard Mendenhall ran for 1,273 yards, seventh-most in team history, on 324 carries, fifth-most in team history, and rushed for 13 touchdowns, tied for second-most in team history.

* RB Mewelde Moore, who missed the Steelers' regular-season finale with a sprained knee, has returned to practice and should be available for Saturday's playoff game.

* WR Antwaan Randle El did not score a TD in 2010, but both of his passes went for scores. His two TD passes brought his career passing record to 22 of 27 for 323 yards, six TDs and a near-perfect rating of 156.1.

* QB Ben Roethlisberger has a career record of 7-2 against Baltimore, including one playoff victory. Both losses came in the 2006 season. He did not play in Baltimore's victory in the fourth game of this season, the last game of his suspension.

* DE Aaron Smith, out since Oct. 24 with torn triceps that required surgery, will not return in time to play in the game against Baltimore.


01-11-2011, 01:43 PM
Watched 1st Pitt/Balt game on NFL Network rerun last night. What I saw:

Mendy has some good success running outside to the right against the Ravens. I guess I sort of missed how fast he can really be once he has his direction set.

Heath was a good matchup in the middle. I think the Ravens had the same idea using Heap in the middle til he got hurt. I think both defenses are vulnerable intermediate routes between the hashes.

If we clean up the penalties, we win both games against them. I am really hoping the refs just let them play. It should be a fun slugfest.

01-11-2011, 02:47 PM
Is it just me, or are the Ravens talking up a storm about this game, while the Steelers are eerily silent at this point?

I feel like going all Michael Madsen on this Ravens...“Are you gonna keep barking, little doggie, or are you gonna bite?”

:tt2 :tt1

01-11-2011, 07:16 PM
Suggs: Ravens-Steelers victor will be NFL champion

By Scott Brown
Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The winner of Super Bowl XLV won’t be decided Feb. 6 in Dallas.

It will be determined Saturday when the Steelers host the Ravens in an AFC divisional playoff game. So said Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs today during a conference call with Pittsburgh reporters.

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

Suggs said last Sunday that it will be “Armageddon” when the Steelers and Ravens meet for the third time this season.

He said he made that reference because the teams are so evenly matched and because the stakes are so high.

The last four Steelers-Ravens games have all been decided by three points.

The Steelers rallied for a 17-14 win at Baltimore on Dec. 5, a victory that helped propel them to a third AFC North title in the last four years.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played most of the game with a broken nose after getting hit in the face by Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said earlier this week that he was glad Roethlisberger broke his nose. Harbaugh said today that the comment was made in jest and that he was not taking a shot at Roethlisberger.

“It was a response to a kind of humorous question and I was laughing and it was tongue in cheek and I took the opportunity to praise him for how tough he is,” Harbaugh said. “I go back a long way with Ben. I’ve known him since he was a sophomore in college. I’ve got tremendous respect for him and he knows we try to be physical.”

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 17653.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/breaking/s_717653.html)

01-11-2011, 07:25 PM
Let them talk. Win or lose they will talk anyway. Ben threw 5 TDs in a half against them in 2007 and Ray the Knife was "bragging" how we didn't run on them.

Just tell Suggs to leave his crowbar and bleach at home, and Ray to leave his knives at home, and shut the hell up and play.

01-11-2011, 07:33 PM
View from Baltimore: Having never beaten Steelers in the playoffs, the Ravens are ready

Tuesday, January 11, 2011
By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE -- A trip to the AFC championship game and a shot at redemption await the Ravens in Saturday's divisional playoff game at Heinz Field.

Everyone in the Ravens locker room knows the reason they have to play at Heinz Field is because they failed to finish off their biggest rival 36 days ago.

The Ravens have since won five consecutive games -- which is currently the second-longest winning streak in the NFL -- but the players are carrying that loss with them along with a suddenly hot quarterback and an even hotter defense.

"I think it's going to be World War III," Ravens safety Dawan Landry said. "The last one left a bad taste in our mouth."

Whether it's having a first-round bye ripped from them or a championship dream squashed, Pittsburgh has become a frustrating roadblock for the Ravens, who have never beaten the Steelers in the playoffs.

The Ravens' Super Bowl title defense came to an end at Pittsburgh in the divisional playoffs in January 2002. Their championship run in coach John Harbaugh's first season was stopped by the Steelers in the AFC championship game in January 2009.

Still, the Ravens are embracing the challenge ahead.

The Ravens are currently 3 1/2-point underdogs, and that should be expected.

Five of the past six regular-season games between the Ravens and Steelers have been decided by three points, including both meetings this season.

"We know what [the Steelers are] all about, and it's going to be a tough game, but we're very confident about going there and playing against them," cornerback Chris Carr said. "And I'm sure they're very confident as well. Every single time we play them, it doesn't matter how good you play, it always seems like the game ends up being close. So hopefully, we can come in there and have a little better effort than we did in the second game."

That confidence should be brimming after the Ravens' 30-7 dismantling of the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday's wild-card game.

The defense tied a playoff team record with five turnovers, and quarterback Joe Flacco tied an NFL record with his fourth playoff road win as a starter by putting together his most impressive postseason performance.

Four reasons the wild-card game offers hope of beating the Steelers:

• Joe Flacco's play against the blitz. Flacco had perhaps his best showing in the pocket, from stepping up to make a throw to shrugging off a defender to scrambling for extra yards. He was nearly perfect against the Chiefs' pressure, completing 4 of 5 passes for 58 yards when Kansas City blitzed a defensive back. The Chiefs' secondary blitz had held teams to the lowest completion rate in the NFL this season, according to ESPN.

• Opening up the passing game. Flacco's comfort zone has always seemed to be throwing the ball to Derrick Mason on the outside and finding Ray Rice underneath the coverage. In the wild-card game, Flacco controlled the middle of the field, completing 18 of 21 passes with two touchdowns in between the field numbers. Tight end Todd Heap and wide receiver Anquan Boldin resurfaced in a passing game that will need to carry the Ravens against the NFL's top-ranked run defense.

• Creating turnovers. Causing a handful of turnovers in the playoffs is always impressive. But the Ravens defense forced these mistakes out of a Chiefs team that had the second-fewest giveaways in the NFL.

• Discovering their finishing touch. The Ravens have struggled all season to put teams away early, losing nine leads in the fourth quarter. But they owned the fourth quarter in Sunday's wild-card game, controlling the ball for all but 68 seconds. The Ravens need to carry that same mentality into Pittsburgh, especially when you consider that both meetings have come down to plays late in the fourth quarter.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11011/11 ... z1AlhVBtd6 (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11011/1117014-66.stm#ixzz1AlhVBtd6)

NW Steeler
01-11-2011, 07:44 PM
Yeah, I'm so glad that the Ratbirds are ready for us. I am so glad that they are talking about it so much. Sounds to me like the Steelers are in their heads. The Steelers will be ready too. I like the fact that you aren't seeing anything coming out of the Steelers locker room. Bring it. I think that this game will not be as close as predicted.


01-11-2011, 07:54 PM
Yeah, I'm so glad that the Ratbirds are ready for us. I am so glad that they are talking about it so much. Sounds to me like the Steelers are in their heads. The Steelers will be ready too. I like the fact that you aren't seeing anything coming out of the Steelers locker room. Bring it. I think that this game will not be as close as predicted. :ratsuck

Completely agree with you here. I think the run game will be lacking for both teams. It will come down to who passes or plays the pass better and I like our chances. Granted, our last competition was the Browns, but I really liked what they did. My biggest fear is the red zone. It's been our achilles heel all year.

I think for the Steelers to win, they need to look to pass to set up the run instead of the reverse. I hope to see lots of Ben to Heath and other receivers this weekend (and not much Mewelde at all).

01-11-2011, 07:56 PM
Yeah, I'm so glad that the Ratbirds are ready for us. I am so glad that they are talking about it so much. Sounds to me like the Steelers are in their heads. The Steelers will be ready too. I like the fact that you aren't seeing anything coming out of the Steelers locker room. Bring it. I think that this game will not be as close as predicted.


:Agree too. Wish I could be in that Steeler locker room this week. Those Pgh. sports writer guys have a pretty cool job, if you think about it.

01-11-2011, 08:00 PM
They talked in 2001.


They talked in 2008.


Let them talk. That's all they can do.

01-12-2011, 01:28 PM
Updated: Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ravens-Steelers: 10 observations

1. This is a big-time rivalry: This is primed to be the most physical game of the year. These teams split during the regular season, with each win coming by only three points. Baltimore has been an excellent road playoff team, and its mental toughness cannot be denied. The Ravens have now won five straight and have not lost a game all year by more than a touchdown. But they are operating on a short week. Pittsburgh lost only one game at home this season and should be very well-rested for this game. All four of the Steelers' losses this season came against playoff teams.

2. Wallace has company: Mike Wallace might be the best deep threat in the league. Wallace has been as sure-handed as he is dangerous, and Pittsburgh has done an excellent job incorporating him as a short option as well. As dangerous as Wallace is, he isn't alone in the Steelers' arsenal. Hines Ward isn't dynamic but is very steady and reliable. The same can be said for TE Heath Miller. And WR Emmanuel Sanders is quickly becoming another option to fear. Ben Roethlisberger averaged a whopping 8.2 yards per passing attempt in the regular season, third best in the league. The Ravens allowed only 6.3 yards per passing attempt, which was second only to the Steelers' defense. Josh Wilson has been a very pleasant surprise and really helped shore up the Ravens' cornerback corps. Wilson is very fast, but doesn't have Wallace's speed.

3. Don't let Polamalu wreak havoc: Steelers safety Troy Polamalu is one of the most disruptive defensive players in the league. He is also extremely hard to account for and can do damage in a multitude of ways. Ravens TE Todd Heap had a big week in Kansas City, and Polamalu could often get the assignment of slowing him down. But Polamalu will also blitz, play the deep half and can be a terror in the run game.

4. Force Big Ben into mistakes: Roethlisberger is a great quarterback, but he's also a risk-taker. The Chiefs only threw for 70 yards against Baltimore last week, even though they were playing from behind for the majority of the second half. Ed Reed covers so much ground that the Ravens can get away with more single high safety looks than most teams. He is the best ballhawk in football. Baltimore is getting great safety play in general, including Dawan Landry. Terrell Suggs had two sacks last week and has killed Pittsburgh in the past. Getting him blocked will be difficult but instrumental to Pittsburgh's passing game. He doesn't often get the credit he deserves in this regard, but Roethlisberger's stats within the pocket far exceed what he does outside the pocket. He has also been very good versus the blitz, on third down and in the fourth quarter. He is usually at his best when it matters most.

5. Matchup to watch: Ravens RB Ray Rice versus Steelers ILB Lawrence Timmons: The Ravens' offense operates best when it is goes through Rice. But Rice has just 52 yards rushing on 17 carries and three catches for 27 yards this season versus Pittsburgh. Timmons is a very tough matchup for Rice in the run game, as a pass-rusher and in coverage. Amazingly, the Steelers gave up only 3.0 yards per rushing attempt and allowed less than 63 rushing yards per game in the regular season. Equally incredible, Pittsburgh allowed only one run over 20 yards. The Ravens mustered a 3.8-yard per carry average during the regular season; they want to be a physical offense. Baltimore ran 78 plays last week and held the ball for more than 41 minutes.

6. Dink and dunk down the field: There isn't an offensive position that has put up good numbers versus the Steelers lately, and Pittsburgh was the best pass defense in the league on a yards-per-attempt basis during the regular season. The Steelers are great at disallowing the long ball. But the Ravens rarely go deep and don't have a true home-run hitter at wide receiver. As Baltimore did successfully in Kansas City, look for Joe Flacco to attack the Steelers with a short, controlled passing game. Pittsburgh also allowed the fewest points in the league in 2010.

7. Hit Flacco: Pittsburgh led the NFL in sacks this year. Flacco will hold the ball too long at times, and Kansas City's Tamba Hali gave the Ravens' offensive tackles fits last week. This week, Baltimore can't even key on one singular edge-rusher. Instead, the Ravens have to handle linebackers LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison. But Pittsburgh wasn't great getting to Flacco during the regular season. Throwing against the Steelers when they rush four or fewer has proven especially difficult.

8. Feed Mendenhall: Pittsburgh has broken off a lot of long runs. And the Ravens are not a particularly fast defense. RB Rashard Mendenhall doesn't have the speed of a guy like Jamaal Charles, but he can get to the edge quickly, and if he gets past the front seven, can certainly break off long gains. But for that to happen, Pittsburgh will have to stay dedicated to the ground game, which has been a problem at times.

9. Win the hidden yardage: This is destined to be a grueling game. The Ravens have a big special-teams advantage, which could be crucial in a tight battle. Three teams turned the ball over less than the Steelers and only two teams had more takeaways. But Baltimore is excellent with its ball security and will not be overwhelmed on the road.

10. Matchup to watch: Steelers interior offensive line vs. Ravens DT Haloti Ngata: Pittsburgh's guard play is subpar. Although Maurkice Pouncey is a fine young center and the Steelers' best offensive lineman, big, overpowering defensive linemen give him trouble. No one is bigger or more overpowering than Ngata and his linemates, Kelly Gregg and Terrence Cody. The Ravens are predominantly a 4-3 team, but they are very flexible and will challenge the rookie center's ability to make proper line calls.


Baltimore 13
Pittsburgh 17

http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/scouting ... d310115023 (http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/scouting?gameId=310115023&action=login&appRedirect=http%3a%2f%2finsider.espn.go.com%2fnfl %2fscouting%3fgameId%3d310115023)

01-12-2011, 02:21 PM
1. This is a big-time rivalry: This is primed to be the most physical game of the year. These teams split during the regular season, with each win coming by only three points. Baltimore has been an excellent road playoff team, and its mental toughness cannot be denied. The Ravens have now won five straight and have not lost a game all year by more than a touchdown. But they are operating on a short week. Pittsburgh lost only one game at home this season and should be very well-rested for this game. All four of the Steelers' losses this season came against playoff teams.

Actually, we lost 3 games at home this season, and lost 1 game on the road.

Interestingly, our 3 home losses were to the other 3 teams still alive in the AFC playoffs.

01-12-2011, 04:12 PM
Collier: Win or lose, this one is going to hurt

Wednesday, January 12, 2011
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

That the Steelers' postseason will begin and possibly end with still another lowbrow argument with the Baltimore Ravens isn't terribly surprising, nor should it in any way be disappointing.

But in one not terribly significant way, I think it is.

It's like finding out after months of planning and too many hours of anticipatory speculation that, oh yeah, you're going to the prom but the first thing on the program is an alley fight out back.

What, again?

There goes that deposit on the tux.

We've pretty much established that the Steelers-Ravens matchup presents its own hyper-violent genre of competition, football on the far edges of sanity. Modern writers have taken their shots at describing it, but none probably came as close as Mark Twain describing a thunder storm just 127 years ago, or as they like to say, before the merger.

"WHACK -- Bum! Bum! Bumble-umble-um-bum-bum-bum-bum -- and the thunder would go rumbling and grumbling away, and quit -- and then RIP comes another flash and another sockdolager!"

The first sockdolager of the most recent episode, Dec. 5 at Baltimore, arrived on the flying left paw of Ravens defensive tackle Haloti (Say Haloti to my little friend) Ngata, with which he rearranged Big Bloody Ben's nose so that the end pointed toward Annapolis. The last came via the hurtling 250-pound missile of a linebacker named Jameel McClain, whose collision with tight end Heath Miller left Miller in a mental place well over the state line.

It's all part of why Steelers safety Ryan Clark, among the hardest hitters on either roster, said he much appreciated getting last weekend off.

"I like the hitting part, but not the soreness [afterward]," Clark said before Tuesday's practice. "I got to wake up with no pain."

That won't be the situation Sunday morning. Win or lose, this is gonna hurt.

"It's like the old West," said Steelers corner Bryant McFadden. "It's like two gunfighters. You're looking at two teams with the same mindset, the same kind of approach."

All football considerations aside, you know that Heinz Field at dusk Saturday will be a big bowl of nasty, and you get the feeling sometimes that it has to be that way just to "honor" Steelers-Ravens traditions.

"They're a really salty group," was one of Mike Tomlin's primary descriptions for this week's opponent.

Tomlin has got more than enough chops with the language for anyone to second-guess that adjective, so I would presume he's indicating flavorful or zesty rather than that the Ravens are comprised of a chemical compound formed by replacing all or part of the hydrogen ions of an acid with metal ions or electropositive radicals.

Yes, I think that's safe, especially since Ravens safety Ed Reed is clearly zesty with those eight interceptions.

But even as the Steelers quite evidently match the Ravens salt for salt, rock for rock, salt is still no synonym for psychosis, which too often seems closer to the predominant mental state of the people between the sidelines.

There's little use in rifling through the atrocities associated with this series. From Joey Porter's cheap shot on a hurting Todd Heap all the way back in '04 to McClain's $40,000 helmet-to-helmet thunderbolt on Miller, the two teams have always appeared as intent on proving that this ain't no boat race as they are with winning.

Asked for a specific memory of the series he walked into as Tommy Maddox was getting pounded out of Steelers history one day near the Inner Harbor, the first one that came to Ben Roethlisberger's mind wasn't pleasant. "I remember Bart Scott putting me on my back," he said.

This time there's little likelihood of any variation on the theme. Five of the past six regular-season games between these teams were decided by three points, the other by four. The AFC championship two years ago looks like a romp on history's surface, but the Steelers' 23-14 victory was a two-point affair until Troy Polamalu won it with a 40-yard interception return with 4:34 left.

Miller said Tuesday this is all a result of how remarkably similar the teams are, and doesn't regard the Ravens as any more or less violent than his typical assignment. But Saturday brings his first venture into an unkindness of ravens since he was separated from coherence for the better part of three weeks in December.

"In my mind that's behind me; I've crossed that hurdle," Miller said. "It's free from my mind right now."

Miller said he couldn't avoid the video of McClain drilling him, of his body going limp near the sideline. It was sickening. At that moment, missing a couple of games seemed like a miracle.

"It gives you time to reflect on some things," Miller said, "but it's natural for a football player to compete. Once you're ready, that's what you do."

So that's what we'll have Saturday, a competition.

That's a nicely as I can put it.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11012...#ixzz1Aqk9D9H4

01-12-2011, 10:18 PM
For Steelers, it's the same as it ever was

By Brian Carson
Special to CBSSports.com


PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- It's almost a cliché to say the Pittsburgh Steelers are the embodiment of the city they live and play in. But it's undeniable.

Against a backdrop of steel, rough-hewn, weather-beaten streets, and gun metal gray skies, the Steelers are a blue collar, no-nonsense, tough-as-nails bunch, much like many of the people who make the Steel City their home.

This is a populace -- and a team -- about work ethic and physicality, not glitz and glamour.

"You're never going to see us on Hard Knocks,'" said safety Ryan Clark, referring to the HBO show that featured the Jets before the start of the season. "We're not going to be the team that's seen. We have a team of football players.

"There's no TV stars here. We have one guy in here with a commercial (Troy Polamalu), and that's just because he has nice hair. This organization is about winning championships."

The core philosophy and personality of the organization began in earnest when Art Rooney hired Chuck Noll in 1969. Noll, who was selected after Penn State coach Joe Paterno turned down the job, brought toughness, tenacity and attitude to a franchise that sorely needed it. His first order of business was to draft Joe Greene out of North Texas State in the first round.

Neither the team nor the city would ever be the same. Four Super Bowl championships in six years redefined both the place and its team.

Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin, cut from the same cloth as Noll, continued and built upon what he left, each winning a Super Bowl title.

No team, with the exception of the New England Patriots, has managed the salary cap/free agency era of professional football better. The franchise has laid the blueprint for success others can only hope to duplicate.

Since the 1970 merger the Steelers have won six Super Bowls in seven appearances, played in seven AFC championship games, won 20 divisional titles, and made the playoffs 26 times. The franchise has won the most total games (415), the most divisional titles, has the best winning percentage (.611), earned the most All-Pro nominations (64), and has accumulated the most Super Bowl wins.

It's a formula that's seems simple in design but has proven difficult in execution:

Draft or sign the best available players that fit the personality and system of the team; don't overspend on high priced free agents; sign key veterans before they test the free agent waters; replace the aging veterans with hungry youngsters they apprenticed.

The 2010 team, and all others before it, was built this way.

Of course, the emphasis has always been on a strong defense, and with the return of Polamalu, who missed most of the 2009 season with a knee injury, the unit has once again played at a high level.

Pittsburgh led the league in rushing defense (62.8) and was second in total defense (276.8) with Polamalu single-handedly winning two games. His absence in 2009 was a big reason the team went 9-7 and missed the playoffs.

"He's Superman, and we like to keep him as Clark Kent and on Sundays he goes into his phone booth and comes out and he's just Superman," Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward said. "So we expect him to be out there, continuing being Superman for us."

Add to the mix quality linebackers like James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons, and LaMarr Woodley, it's easy to see why the Steelers went 12-4 and captured their second AFC North crown in three years.

With the No. 2 seed in its back pocket, Pittsburgh is well positioned in its quest for seven rings. The first hurdle is the Baltimore Ravens (13-4), the one team in the league most like the Steelers, and their biggest rival to boot.

"That is our type of game," Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton said. "We are a physical team. We try to impose our will on people. We are carbon copies of each other. The fans, and TV, that is what everybody wants to see. They know what kind of games we have, the physical nature of it. I think that is what people want to see."

The Ravens are fast, physical and love to inflict pain. Just ask Ben Roethlisberger how his cornflake-like busted nose felt, or ask Heath Miller about the concussion he suffered in a 13-10 Steelers win back in December.

How brutal can this rivalry get?

Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs referred to this game as "Armageddon."

"It's about what is on the line," Suggs said. "They call it Armageddon as the fight between good and evil. I am a big Star Wars fan and the emperor said, 'Evil is only a point of view.' I guess it is from whose point of view it's coming from."

A Steelers-Ravens matchup presents its own form of violent ballet you can't see anywhere else in the NFL. This is old-school football at its finest.

This Saturday's divisional playoff game is Round 3 in the Steelers-Ravens war of attrition for 2010. It won't be pretty. It won't be flashy and there won't be a ton of points scored, but if hardcore football is your game, don't miss this one.

"The team that wins this game is going to be the most violent team, the team that is most physical," Steelers defensive lineman Chris Hoke said. "It's the team that goes out there to push the other team around. That is who wins. When we play the Ravens, it's whoever can be the most physical team that wins."

It will be a brutal, bloody, physical contest.

Just the way the Steelers and the Steeler Nation like it.


01-13-2011, 03:11 AM
Steelers and Ravens know each other well

By Teresa Varley - Steelers.com

When it comes to the Steelers and the Ravens, there are no secrets. These are two teams that know each other well, know tendencies, strengths and weakness. Basically, there isn’t much they don’t know.

“The advantage is you know the players,” said safety Ryan Clark. “You might not know what they are going to do, but I know if this guy is fast, this guy is strong or quick.”

That is why one of the things being preached to the Steelers players this week is execution. They can watch all the film they want this week of the Ravens, they have pretty much seen it all. But if they don’t execute, being familiar with them is meaningless.

“It just comes down to who makes the plays,” said cornerback William Gay. “The coaches can’t tell you anything you don’t know about the opponent. It’s a matter of who executes the game play the coaches give us.

“We know them, they know us. It doesn’t matter who we play we just have to execute the game plan.”

The Steelers defeated the Ravens 13-10 on December 5 in Baltimore, while the Ravens were 17-14 winners at Heinz Field on October 3.

“We get the chance to play them for the third time this season, we know their personnel, they know our personnel,” said wide receiver Hines Ward. “It just comes down to executing whatever team makes the most plays. They know what type of team we are, we know what type of team they are. It’s going to come down to whatever team executes the best. That is how it has been over the years.”

* * *

One player who the Steelers expect to make plays for the Ravens this time around is tight end Todd Heap. Heap was injured in the opening minutes of the match-up in Baltimore, leaving the game after making just one catch.

“He is a big difference maker,” said Clark. “Look at our difference without Heath (Miller). That is the equivalent. Two of the premiere tight ends in the league. It’s going to change the game. He did a great job against Kansas City. Kansas City had a hard time containing him. That’s something we have to pay attention to.”

Heap had 10 receptions for 108 yards in the AFC Wild Card game against the Chiefs, and the Steelers know they will have to shut him down on Saturday.

“He is a big factor for their offense,” said Gay. “They look for him. He is a known veteran. He is someone we have to deal with and stop.”

* * *

Kicker Shaun Suisham was signed by the Steelers prior to the Oakland game and has been a consistent force for the black and gold since then, hitting 14 of 15 field goal attempts.

“He’s banged just about every kick we sent him out there to hit,” said Coach Mike Tomlin. “But not only that, he has a can-do attitude. He is a pleasant teammate. He has endeared himself to his teammates because of it. He doesn’t bat an eye when you ask him to do some special things, whether it’s kickoffs and spreading the ball around or lobs; he has just been a pro. He has been a good addition to us. He has done everything we have asked him to do and has done a pretty good job of it.”

* * *

There isn’t a lot of margin for error this week with playing in the AFC Championship game on the line, and that isn’t lost on the players.

“It’s important we have a small amount of bad plays,” said defensive end Nick Eason. “If we lose this game it’s time to go home. It’s do or die now. There is no revenge or come back. It’s a do or die time now.”

* * *

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was asked about the way the Steelers offense has evolved, yet the games against the Ravens have been low-scoring affairs this year.

“You can talk about the offense all you want, but it’s about the two defenses,” said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. “It’s two great defenses that do a lot of exotic type blitzes, exotic looks. They are physical. Both groups are very veteran groups. It’s about what offense is going to make a mistake or not make it. That’s why I think it’s always close.”

Linebacker James Farrior understands the defensive battle that is going to take place, and knows it’s about being the better defense to get the win.

“That is the key to the game, is trying to outperform their defense,” said Farrior. “We know they have a great defense, a lot of all-star guys over there. We just try to do our job to out play those guys.”

* * *

Safety Troy Polamalu (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday, but is expected to go full tilt on Thursday.

Cornerback Bryant McFadden (abdomen) was limited in practice but he too is expected to fully practice on Thursday.

“He is really going according to plan,” said Tomlin. “If anything I am erring on the side of caution. He is a veteran player. This is the third time we have played the opponent. We are not going to take any steps backwards between then and Saturday afternoon. I think that’s the prudent approach. He has been agreeable with that, but he is chomping at the bit to go because he is a detailed preparation guy. I am comfortable with where he is.”

Defensive end Aaron Smith (triceps) was limited in practice as well.


01-13-2011, 07:21 PM