A record crowd at Heinz Field came out for this one, and they weren't disappointed. Hank Williams Jr got the show going by singing some song of his and flashing a Steelers shirt.
The Ravens won the toss and deferred, giving us the opportunity to get on the board first.
The Steelers come out running, but get set back on a Colon false start, but Hines comes through in a big way, taking a short pass and turning it upfield for a big 45-yard gain to get the Steelers all the way into field goal territory.
The Ravens defense steps it up and shuts the Steelers down on two running plays, then sacks Ben on third down, bringing out the Lob Wedge. Leonhard muffs the catch, but is able to fall on it and the Ravens retain the ball.
The Ravens come out with the run, but get forced into a third and long again, and Deshea steps in front of a pass intended for Mason.
Big play by Deshea to get us up in the turnover battle early and give us solid field position.
On first down, Ben goes down the middle to Holmes on a post and he makes the grab, takes three steps and gets pulled down. On the replays, it looked like it should have been a touchdown, but he was called down at the one. Both coaches throw the challenge flag, but Harbaugh gets it out first, challenging the catch. Somehow the call is overturned, much to the chagrin of the fans. After two failed deep balls, the Super Sayian comes out again.
With Ward out, the Steelers go to the motif offense, but are able to convert on a third down completion to Heath. Nate Washington reels one in on first down to keep things rolling, but then disaster strikes on second down.
Parker goes left and loses the ball, which falls right into the hands of Leonhard.
TURNOVER ON DOWNS.
The Ravens right end (Pryce I think) blitzes wide around the outside, pulling Starks out of his stance and giving Ben a hole to step up in. Moore moves over to seal the block on Pryce and Ben steps up and to the left (shown in orange), buying himself some time.
The rest of the play was made by Santonio cutting it back up the field (you can see that on the video clip). But something that jumped out at me was Heath Miller, who was in the backfield picking up the blitz, was able to run downfield and throw a key block to lead Holmes down the sidelines. Watch the video again. Heck of an effort by Heath.
Holmes made a heck of a dive past Ed Reed to get inside the pylon, then does a little birdie dance.
Did anyone else notice the disappointment in Jim Nantz' voice after the play? It certainly comes through on the YouTube video.
After the touchdown, the Ravens went back to the ground, and McGahee came through in a big way, running three times and picking up a first down. After a first down penalty, Woodley flies in and disrupts Flacco's pass.
Look at the elevation by Woodley. What an athlete.
The Ravens are able to convert on second and long on a little dump-off to Ray Rice that he turns upfield for big yards. The Ravens get themselves into another third and long on the next set, but Flacco hooks up with Clayton for 15 to keep the drive alive and move into Pittsburgh territory. The Ravens try to go run-run-pass, but Aaron Smith destroys the 3rd down play by pulling Flacco down for the sack. Punt team.
Playing from deep in their own territory, the Steelers came back with their motif offense, giving it to Parker twice before going to the air. Baltimore challenged the third down completion to Nasty Nate, but the completion was upheld, giving Pittsburgh teh first down and taking Baltimore's last challenge away. Parker got two more totes, but a personal foul on Kemoeatu pushed them into third and long, where we ran a safe draw play and punted.
Unfortunately for us, the Lob Wedge made a poor kick and Leonhard was able to split a seam in the coverage and get some open field. Berger makes a touchdown-saving tackle, but the Ravens get great field position.
The Steelers defense comes up big and forces a third and long, but McFadden gets called for a terrible pass interference penalty in the end zone, giving the Ravens new life at the one. McGahee cashes it in to make it a game.
The Ravens take over with just under two minutes to go, in a situation that would seem to necessitate running out the clock. They look as though they're going to on first down after a McGahee run, but they go no-huddle and throw on second down. Pressure by Timmons forces an incompletion, stopping the clock and setting up third down. Another incompletion on 3rd down stops the clock again and forces the Ravens to punt. Holmes breaks out a big return to get the ball to the 50, giving the Steelers a shot with a minute to play.
On first down, Ben goes deep for Sweed down the left side. Sweed is wiiiiide open and Ben throws a perfect pass...
...but Sweed forgets how to use his hands.
To make matters worse, Sweed was "injured" on the play, costing the Steelers their final timeout. After two more incompletions, the Steelers have to punt, but Baltimore gets flagged for roughing the kicker, giving the Steelers another gasp of life.
Ben hits Heath down the left side, and he turns it upfield. Sweed peels back and does his best Hines Ward impression, throwing a monster block on Corey Ivy to spring Heath.
Left side of the picture is Sweed's block. WOOOOOOOOO
The Steelers respond by getting into positive down and distance (third and three), but a sack forces them to punt.
Harrison gets pressure twice in three plays, leading to another three and out by the Ravens. Exciting stuff at the beginning of the third quarter.
The Steelers look poised to go three-and-out once more, but Ben hits Carey Davis in the middle of the field and Davis turns upfield and is able to gain 20 yards for the first down. The Steelers really seem to want to shoot themselves in the foot on this drive, as Ben gets sacked again, but a 30-yard catch and run to Heath down the sidelines picks up the first down and more.
With the ball in Ravens territory, Parker rips off 11 yards in two carries, getting another key first down. The Steelers do nothing on three plays and Jeff Reed comes out for a 46-yarder.
Parker gets a short gain on first down, then the Steelers roll the dice a bit on second down with an end-around to Nate to end the quarter.
Sweed drops the ball when he's wide open, but catches it when he's in coverage.
Two Parker runs get the Steelers to third and one, and Arians (in a move that should be at the top of the list for reasons he should be fired) puts Ben in the shotgun and goes five-wide on third and one. This might have been the singular dumbest play call of the year, and an incompletion brought out the punt team. Berger makes a terrible punt, and the Ravens get the ball at their own 42.
The Ravens come out and run a double-reverse to Clayton for 16 yards to get into Steelers territory. The Ravens get called for a hold against Harrison, setting them back, but two passes to Mason for 14 and 11 gets them down to the Steelers 24.
Two plays later, Flacco goes for the end zone and Ike gets flagged for another terrible pass interference call, giving the Ravens another shot from point blank. McGahee finds paydirt again, drawing the Ravens within two.
After a failed run on first down, Flacco hits Heap-of-sh*t for 20 yards to drive some doubt into the hearts of Steelers nation. After a short run, LaMarr Woodley comes up with a HUUUGE sack, digging a grave and throwing Flacco in back at the 29 yard line.
...dodges Clayton moving back to his right...
...brings it all the way across the field and turns it up the sidelines...
...picks up a block from Aaron Smith and does a little bob and weave with the ball as he crosses the goal line...
...for the gamechanging TOUCHDOWN
Ryan Clark lays a vicious hit (ruled as a legal hit by the league) on McGahee.
The ball came out and the Steelers recovered, but both players went down after the play. Clark eventually walked off, but McGahee was carted off the field. In a scary moment, they brought the cart out right away for him, taking no chances. Word is he's going to be okay, which is good. We may not like the Ravens, but we don't wish harm upon their players (or any players for that matter).
The Steelers got the ball back and ran two plays to run the clock down to almost two minutes. They took a timeout rather than a delay of game with 2:01 to go. An incompletion on third down used up the two minute warning, and the Steelers punted it away with a safe lead.
With 1:48 to play, it was all about the clock. Ray Rice pulled in a pass, but Lawrence Timmons kept him in bounds to keep it ticking.
Tick tick tick tiiiick tick TICK
Flacco went for Clayton on the sidelines, but Clayton was out of bounds, and replay confirmed the call on the field. On second down with 1:20 left, Flacco looked over the middle again, but Tyrone Carter was there to pick off the pass, sealing the deal once and for all.
Players of the Game:
Offensive Game Ball: Santonio Holmes- He had the one big touchdown catch and more importantly, after Hines went out, the Raves shaded Reed to his side to take him out of the game, which effectively took Ed Reed out of the game as well.
Defensive Game Ball: Troy Polamalu- Does this one even need explained? He stuffed Flacco on the fourth and one, pulled Flacco down for a loss on the QB Wrap play, and had an interception return for a touchdown.
Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game
Really, we're going to the Super Bowl, so there's not much to make a yucky face over, but the officials in this game were awful.
- SUPER BOWL!!!
- Ben was sacked four times, but on the whole the Offensive Line did a fantastic job in blitz recognition and blitz pickup
- LaMarr Woodley is the real deal. Every tackle he faces he just bull-rushes out of their shoes.
- Woodley should have made the Pro Bowl. The fact that he didn't is a crime.
- Tampa baby!
- I was spot-on with my scouting report of the Ravens
- Hopefully McGahee is okay, that was probably the worst hit I've ever seen, they were both going full-speed and their heads just collided.
- What a game. Everyone is talking about exorcising the demons of Heinz Field, so I think they're officially exorcised.
- Hines will play in the Super Bowl.
- IIIIIIIIIII've got a FEEEEEELING