Tuesday, January 20, 2009
You want football at its best, you got it. We all knew this game was going to be hard hitting. We all knew both team's offense would have trouble moving the ball. We all knew there would be many injury timeouts as players would be constantly scraped off the field of play. This is why we love football!
And lets be honest. Did anyone really think rookie quarterback Joe Flacco would lead his team to three straight road playoff victories?
And lets face it, the Steelers owned this game. It's a miracle Baltimore was somehow only down 16-14 and had the ball halfway through the fourth quarter. You can contribute that to the Ravens' suffocation defense or the officials getting calls from Vegas or CBS to keep the game close.
With Pittsburgh already leading 3-0 in the first quarter, Ben Roethlisberger hit Santonio "Mister Clutch Playoff Playmaker" Holmes with a 23 yard pass down to the Ravens' one yard line. Both Head Coaches threw the red flag. What should have been a Pittsburgh touchdown, or at the very least a First and Goal, turned out to be an incomplete pass after an official review. What? So the Steelers get a field goal and lead 6-0.
Later, Pittsburgh defense showed signs of the original "Steel Curtain" when they stopped the Ravens on third and one, and then fourth and 1. Pretty solid.
The Steelers than seemed to put the game away early when Roethlisberger, on a third and 9, scrambled and hit Holmes about 20 yards downfield. Holmes again showed his playmaking ability and crossed the field turning a 20 yard completion into a 65 yard touchdown.
Pittsburgh defense didn't allow a first down until Baltimore's 16th offensive snap!
The Steelers got screwed again later in the second quarter. Guard Chris Kemoeatu was flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty setting Pittsburgh back to a third and 19. Replay showed Kemoeatu's motive. The Ravens' Marcus Douglass got away with a highly illegal hands to face no call.
Pittsburgh was forced to punt and Jim Leonhard sparked the Ravens with a 45 yard punt return to the Pittsburgh 22 yard line. Baltimore struggled to move the ball but were fortunate to get a pass interference call coming on third and 10. Willis McGahee put the Ravens on the board with a 3 yard touchdown run. 13-7.
On the Steelers' ensuing possession, Roethlisberger hit a wide open Limas Sweed in the hands for a easy 6. Sweed took his eyes off the ball and dropped it!
Later in the second half, McGahee scored another touchdown bring the Ravens within striking distance, 16-14.
Baltimore actually got the ball back late in the fourth down 16-14. There's no way the Steelers were gonna let rookie Flacco beat them. And with 4:24 left in the game, Flacco finally looked like a rookie in the Playoffs. Troy Polamalu did what he does best, make big plays on defense. Polamalu picked off Flacco and then did his best Ed Reed impression and skipped across the field all the way to the end zone and taking the Steelers to the Super Bowl. What did I tell you about the "Pick 6?"
The game wasn't over until Pittsburgh's Ryan Clark delivered one of the hardest hits I've ever seen. Flacco hit McGahee running full speed down the middle and Clark was also coming full speed. This video says it all.
Wow! Holy Shit!
I'm glad both players are alright. In fact, I have new respect for Steelers' fans. As McGahee was being carted off the field and then down the tunnel, you could hear Pittsburgh fans yelling "Good Luck Willis." That's classy.
Congratulations Pittsburgh. Looks like you're well on your way to being kings of the NFL and should win the record of 6 Super Bowl Rings.