"After further review, the receiver had possession of the ball with both feet down in the endzone. The ruling on the field is overturned."
With those words, head referee Walt Coleman (Ed Hoculi is currently in hiding, so as not to be charged with guilt by association) awarded the Steelers a touchdown, and along with the extra point, Pittsburgh took their first lead of the game.
Try as he might, Joe Flacco could not rally the Ravens for a last-minute score, and the Steelers emerged victorious in what was arguably one of the hardest-fought ball games between two of the hardest-playing, hardest-hitting teams in the NFL.
Ranked numbers one and two in overall defense, these teams came into the game with something to prove: that Baltimore should be a playoff threat, and Pittsburgh that THEY are the team to beat in not only the AFC, but the NFL.
For more than 56 minutes, Baltimore appeared to have the upper hand, holding Pittsburgh to 213 total yards, no touchdowns, and a rather sub-par offensive showing.
Then came The Drive, Episode Two. Backed up to his own endzone, Ben Rothelisberger dug deep, rallied his team, and did something he hadn't done all day. He moved the football.
Quickly, efficiently, and in large chunks, Big Ben and the crew tore down the field, hitting Hines Ward twice for big gains, running right at the teeth of the vaunted Ravens run defense, and all of a sudden they were in the redzone—a place they have been VERY comfortable this year. Scoring on 38 out of 42 trips, the Steelers know what to do when they are within spitting distance of the opponent's goal line.
All day, the Ravens had been successful in keeping the ball out. All day, the Ravens had forced the Steelers to settle for field goals. ALL DAY, the Ravens had stopped the Steelers drive short of six. But this time, the Steelers were not to be denied.
Rolling to his left, Big Ben quickly realized that he had no one to throw it to, and looked like he was going to try and run it in (please, God, no!!). He quickly changed his mind when Baltimore flooded the field in front of him with purple jerseys. Running back to his right, he desperately scanned the field for someone, ANYONE, to throw the ball to.
Enter Santonio Holmes. Dancing around in the front of the endzone wide open, he throws up his hand to get his quarterback's attention. Rothelisberger sees his receiver and delivers a dart to Holmes, who stretches out and catches the ball RIGHT AT THE GOAL LINE. Steelers fans (yours truly included) went berserk. TOUCHDOWN STEELERS!!!
But wait, the ref spots it at the one-centimeter line. The ball did not appear to have crossed the goal line!! ROBBERY!!!
Back to the beginning of this diatribe : "After further review, the receiver had possession of the ball with both feet down in the end zone. The ruling on the field is overturned." Ravens fans immediately went berserk, and just like that, it's Pittsburgh 13, Baltimore 9. Another last-minute, come-from-behind victory for the Steelers.
A sweep of the season against the Ravens. A setup for potentially the most crucial game in the AC next week against Tennessee, with the number one seed and home field advantage at stake. And a Baltimore team that was left wondering "what went wrong?"
Say what you want about the replay; that argument will never be resolved. What cannot be overlooked, however, is that the Steelers found another way to win, once again on a comeback drive, and this win vaulted them right into the hunt for the number one seed in the AFC, against a Tennessee team that is not only reeling from it's upset loss to the Oilers—er, Texans—, but the potential loss of possible Defensive Player of the Year Albert Haynesworth.
Rolled up on a play at the end of the game, Haynesworth appeared to sustain a knee injury that could not only sideline him for next week's game, it may take him out for the rest of the year, playoffs included.
Not a happy picture for the Titans.
Steel Town is smiling. Rest assured that there will be as many Terrible Towels waving in Nashville as there are Titans jersey in the stands. This game is HUGE, and the AFC road to the Super Bowl could be determined next week. With a win over the Titans and Cleveland, Pittsburgh comes from behind—again—and wrests the number one seed away from the Titans.
Is anyone else beginning to see a pattern?