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You Can Call Them Champs; Steelers Rally Late for 13-9 Win to Clinch AFC North

And with that, the division is ours.

In a game that we all knew was going to come down to a few plays, the Steelers made just a few more than the Ravens, and because of it they are the AFC North Champions after topping Baltimore 13-9 at M&T Bank Stadium. The game-winner came with just :43 seconds left as Ben Roethlisberger hit Santonio Holmes on a crazy play that had to be reviewed before ref Walt Coleman made the right call, giving the Steelers the only touchdown of the game.

The game was then put on ice as William Gay picked off Ravens QB Joe Flacco in the end zone with eight seconds left to seal the win. The Ravens had gotten to the Steelers 38 after Flacco completed two passes, but in the end the Steelers D did what it had to do to hang on for the win.

So what does this win mean? Pretty simple. The Steelers are the AFC North Champions at 11-3. They also secure a bye into the second round of the playoffs. There is still a shot the team could have home field in the playoffs, as with the Titans losing they are now 12-2, and the two teams play next Sunday at LP Field with home field on the line.

The Steelers were rather stale on offense all day, but came through when they needed to. They went 12 plays and 92 yards in 2:53, and Roethlisberger ended the wild drive scrambling around on third down, then finding Holmes, who had his feet in the end zone with possession of the ball for the score.

The day was a long one for both offenses, as the Ravens were held to three Matt Stover field goals and a total of just 202 yards. Flacco was 11-for-28 for 115 yards with two picks and a QB rating of 22.2. Roethlisberger was 22-for-40 for 246 yards with a TD. He was sacked three times, but the big thing was he did not turn the ball over.

Willie Parker was held to 47 yards on 14 carries. Hines Ward had 8 grabs for 107 yards with a 30-yard grab. Nate Washington had a good game as well, with five grabs for 76 yards. At the end of the day, it was all about making plays, and for the second straight week the Steelers had that one last drive in them that was the difference.

We may see the Ravens again, as there is still a strong shot of them being a wild card team, and if they win their first round game the Steelers may be looking at a home game against them in the divisional round. For now, they did what they had to do, and that’s enough to earn them their second straight AFC North title.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. mark

    December 14, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    Well, the Steelers did what they had to do and can be called Legitimate Divisional Champs. Once again the offense was a bit concerning with dropped balls being a constant problem!The defense remains the best in the league and will be the side of the ball that will carry us as far as we go. I thought the offense moved the ball fairly well early in the game, they were just up against a very stout defense.Ben showed everyone he is a winner despite this idiot Bruce Arians game planning. Look, Im no expert but Arians is just not cut out to be the offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh. I guess he is trying to coach to our strengths, like Ben and our wide receivers because our running game suffers from a mediocre line in front of them but I have to believe there are ways to get this running game productive. Ben has been extremely good with the ball for the past month now, while our running game has gotten worse. I suggest for that these last 2 games the Steelers totally commit to the running game. Sounds Naive, but with the week off gauranteed, its time to get some confidence in the running game. I believe that there is enough talent on this offense to still get things going.

  2. curt

    December 14, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    boy oh boy what a tremendous win against the baltimore bastards, er excuse me ravens. ben manned up and got the job done. once again the defense was outstanding. I,m hoping the by week will help rest some key players and maybe help out our run game. Go Steelers Ride this thing to the promise land

  3. Tim

    December 15, 2008 at 9:29 am

    What a tremendous game! I heard a few stats about Tomlin: First Steeler Coach to win the division title his first two seasons, first Steeler coach to win 21 games (so far) his first two seasons and the Steelers become the FIRST AFC team to win 550 games…most in the AFC.

    Ahhh….Pittsburgh!

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