Only halfway through the playoff game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers and we've seen more surprises than in any regular season game this season. The Ravens came out swinging from the beginning, hoping to take a swift lead in the first. Pittsburgh responded by doing the same. By the second quarter, the difference-maker came down to a yellow piece of cloth, and I'm not talking about terrible towels in the stands.
With the first 30 minutes written in history, the Steelers must be kicking themselves in the locker room. Despite the fact that both teams suffered a pass interference penalty for 30 yards or more in the first half, the Steelers miscues have laid the groundwork for another playoff odds upset.
Their first major mistake came in the first half when Roethlisberger was hit from behind by Terrell Suggs while still holding the ball. After almost 10 seconds of the pigskin lying on the ground, defensive lineman Cory Redding picked up the ball and walking into the end zone for what might be the easiest TD in playoff history. In response, Mike Tomlin had no choice but to challenge the play—a challenge that fell short and left the Steelers without the red flag for the remainder of the game.
The second major error that the Steelers suffered came 8:57 into the second half. Rashard Mendenhall rushed to his right for four yards to the Pittsburgh 16 only to fumble the football and have the Ravens recover. Six plays later, Joe Flacco found Todd Heap in the end zone to put the Ravens up 21-7.
After suffering a baffling delay of game penalty in a hurry-up offense, the Steelers found some footing and began to drive down the field in the fading few minutes of the second quarter. Their furious drive however ended in a Shaun Suisham 43-yard field goal attempt that went wide left.
Behind 14 points, the Steelers are going to have to regroup in the locker room and examine just what they need to do to regain their composure in this intense playoff matchup. If they are going to have any hope of winning they need to slow down the pace of the game and control the ball on their side (let alone protect the ball). Not to mention the 13 sacks against Roethlisberger that simply will have to stop. Let's hope the second half proves to be just as exciting.