The rubber match of the Steelers-Ravens rivalry of the 2010 season was what many fans have came to expect from the two teams over the years spent battling atop the AFC North: hard hits, stout defenses, and a solid run game.
What was perhaps the most surprising trait of this matchup however, is that at the end of the first half, it appeared that Baltimore was going to run away with the game and embarrass the Steelers on their home turf.
Not so fast.
The Steelers, who have faced many, if not the most, challenges as a team collectively this season, ranging from a offensive line decimated by injuries, the suspension of their quarterback and leader Ben Roethlisberger for the first four games of the campaign, or injuries to star safety Troy Polamalu, were once again pressed with their backs to the wall. They trailed the Ravens 21-7 at the half, and 14 of those points scored came off of Pittsburgh turnovers, one which saw Ravens defensive lineman Cory Redding pick up a Ben Roethlisberger fumble and make his way into the end zone untouched, while many of his team mates and Steelers players stood and watched as they believed the ruling was an incomplete pass, however no whistle had been blown.
Whatever Mike Tomlin, Hines Ward, Big Ben, or whoever spoke up in the locker room at the intermission had to say, well.. it worked wonders. The Ravens completely fell apart in the second half, scoring only three points and seemed to find themselves in the same rut the Steelers were in during the first half.
How will the Steelers finish the postseason?
Saturday evening was the latest testament of the Steelers' toughness over the 2010 season. Just a short ten months ago, Big Ben was facing sexual assault allegations that could have had irreparable damage to his career had charges not been dropped. He remained dedicated to his team and the city of Pittsburgh, and his dedication showed tonight as he led the Steelers to another AFC title game, their 5th since 2001.
Regardless of who wins the heated matchup between the Pats' and Jets, Pittsburgh will certainly have another tough bout to prepare for. It goes without saying, however, that the Steelers will show up ready and prepared, and will certainly put their no-quit character and attitude on display once again.