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HERE WE GO! Steelers Heading to Tampa for Super Bowl XLIII After 23-14 Win Over Ravens

It may have not been a thing of beauty, but for Steelers fans, their AFC Championship game win over the Baltimore Ravens 23-14 on Sunday night at Heinz Field was as good as it gets. The Steelers jumped out to a 13-0 lead, allowed the Ravens to hang around, and then did what they do best, put the game away with a huge defensive play by safety Troy Polamalu.

It was Polamalu’s interception and return for a touchdown of Ravens QB Joe Flacco for 40 yards with 4:39 left that began for real the celebration for Steelers fans around the nation. It was that score combined with pressure all day long on Flacco that made the Steelers seventh trip to the Super Bowl possible. Flacco was just 13-for-30 for 141 yards and no TD’s and three interceptions.

The Steelers offense, put in a hole early with the loss of wide out Hines Ward, that was able to do just enough against a Ravens defense that was banged up coming in. Ben Roethlisberger made a play when he had to, running around enough to find Santonio Holmes for a 70-yard score to push the Steelers lead to 13-0 at the 14:16 mark of the second quarter. Roethlisberger was 16-for-33 for 255 yards with a score.

The Steelers though could not put the nail in the coffin on the Ravens, as they allowed them into the game as Jim Leonhard took a punt return back 42 yards to put Baltimore at the Steelers 20. A pass interference on 3rd-and-9 put the ball at the Steelers 3, and then Willis McGahee punched it in to make it 13-7.

Pittsburgh had a weird turn of events at the end of the half, as they had two golden opportunities for points, but both times were turned away. The first time Roethlisberger put a perfect pass right in the hands of rookie WR Limas Sweed, but the wide out dropped, turning a for sure TD into an incomplete pass. Then, with the team driving, Roethlisberger hit Mewelde Moore for 12 yards to the Ravens 9, but the team could not get another play off, and the clock ran out with the score still 13-7.

The Ravens did little in the third quarter, and the Steelers did put together a solid drive, as they went 11 plays and burned off 5:29 of the clock, and while the drive stalled at the Ravens 29, Jeff Reed nailed a solid 46-yard field goal to extend the Steelers lead to 16-7 heading into the final 15 minutes. The Ravens though again would not go away, as after a 21-yard punt by Mitch Berger, the Ravens went 6 plays from their own 42 and with another big pass interference call, they got the ball on the Steelers one, and McGahee went in for a score to make it 16-14 with 9:32 left.

The Steelers could not move the ball on their next possession, and had to put to the Ravens, who pinned themselves back on a huge personal foul call that put them on the 14. After the Ravens got one first down, on a 3rd-and-13, Flacco threw short right, and Polamalu jumped the route, and took it back for a 40-yard score to ice the game at 23-14 with 4:39 left.

The final two Ravens possessions ended with a fumble and pick, as the Steelers kneeled and began the celebration as they get set for a matchup in two weeks with the Arizona Cardinals and former offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and assistant coach Russ Grimm two weeks in Tampa Bay. The Steelers are early 6.5 favorites.

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.



  1. Ron

    January 18, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Here we go Steeler Nation !!! Yea Baby !!! I went to Hooters to watch the games. I was the only Steelers fan there and set up a shrine on my table with hat’s and pictures. I wore my authentic Black and Gold hat, and my prized Troy Polamalu authentic jersey. I also have some black and gold Nike’s that are a must have for die-hard Steeler fans. I know the marketing execs at Nike created them for Steeler’s faithful. They’re obvious to the black and gold lover and hamstring Reebok in a subtle way. Anyway at Hooter’s I was surrounded by hostile Eagle fans who talked shit the whole game with Arizona. I stood my ground and got the last laugh and talked some major smack. I went to a large table of Eagles’ fans and reminded them who Pennsylvania’s real team was. The Eagles’ fans left with head hung and the Raven’s fans filed in and started the battle immediately. There were two other Steelers fans that arrived but they didn’t come to my defense…may the Lord forgive them. In the middle of pre-game trash talk I went over to an area in Hooters that had a large contingent of rabid Raven’s fans and announced that there would only be one “BIRD” team in the SuperBowl. Major smack filled the air but I stood my ground again. I got the last laugh again but my throat was so horse by this time I could hardly speak. My smile conveyed the point to the grief striken Raven fans. What are we going to call this one … “One for the pinky on the other Hand”. GO STEELERS !!

  2. mandy

    January 19, 2009 at 12:10 am

    I noticed today the Cardinals are trying to copy our Terrible Towels. I say bring their white “WE SURRENDER TOWELS” thats is what they represent….Right?

  3. Sandra

    January 19, 2009 at 7:23 am

    I was the researcher for on Heinz Field. I ended up learning a lot about the “Terrible Towels” and it’s not just the Cardinals with the towels, but everyone has them now. Still, Steelers are the original Terrible Towel team and we all thank them for spreading the fun. I live in Tampa and we’re excited to have the Steelers and their crazy fans in town. Leave your coats and boots at home, friends…we’ve ordered up 70+ degrees for you!

  4. mark

    January 19, 2009 at 9:07 am

    A great win for a great franchise! 7th trip to the Big Show. Incredible. Tomlin has much to be proud of as well as his team, and thats what they are people, a T.E.A.M. I know the Cardinals are hot and should be taken VERY seriously, The Steeler’s A game is better then the Cards A game. I feel that the Steeler offense will do better against the Cards, especcially in the run department. Larry Fitgerald MUST be contained. L.F and Warner are going to get their share of plays, but the Steelers will do what they do best. Lets try to savor this win for the next week and a half. Then we can worry about the Cards. Hey Steeler fans, 1 more win makes our Steelers the only 6x champs and gives Ben a 2nd Title. Not bad, huh?

  5. Daniel

    January 19, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Well played game scared by yet another cheap shot by a Steeler. Leading with the helmet, Clark basically tried to spear McGahee. I’m not even a Ravens fan but if I was on their defense, Big Ben would have been looking for his jaw after the next snap. I would have told one of my players to make sure he gets carted off the field. It was enough that one guy had a cheap shot on Carson Palmer a couple of years ago. Geesh. I think Karma will come in Tampa.

  6. mark

    January 19, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Hey Daniel that was NOT a cheap shot and the hit on Carson Palmer was Not even close to being a cheap shot. First off, Clark led with his shoulder and Mcgahee was ducking his head. The helmet-to-helmet was an unfortunate by-product of a clean hit. Even that fence-rider Phil Simms called it a legal hit. It just happens to be a vicious sport. As for Palmer, You had a player on the ground reaching for a players leg. That player happened to be the QB, who could have tucked that ball to run. If it was a RB in the open field and a safety had dove for his legs and there was a helmet to knee impact, would that have been dirty? I truly believe Kimo Von Olhoeffen was just trying to tackle Palmer and that is his job, tackling.Unfortunate, but it is a part of this game. Did you see the late hit on Ben last night? a non-call but it was in fact, late by definition.
    Karma in Tampa? I hardly think that the powers that be will “punish” the Steelers for a legal hit 2 weeks prior to the Super Bowl. By the way, if your not a Ravens fan, and you are blogging negatively about the Steelers on a Steeler site, just who do you root for?

  7. Daniel

    January 19, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    A fins fan who was on the fence as to who to go for until that play. Call it what you want, but he led with his helmet. If he hit a qb like that, it would have been a fine. As for the Palmer play, he tugged on the guys knee for like five seconds after the ball was gone. Call me old fashioned, but if my teammate was speared like that, someone would have been bleeding on the next play.
    That said, the steelers have a great team and a great coach. Still, I’ve watched that play several times now and I think it was dirty.

  8. Jay

    January 19, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    You’re smoking too much ganja down in Miami Daniel! Ben was cheap “shotted” in 2005 by Luis Castillo which started his knee injury…Bart Scott and company put a bounty on Parker and/or Mendenhall and actually held true to it…Patrick Kearney led with his helmet and knocked Ben out in 2006…None of these received flags. SO what’s coming ’round!!!! It’s a vicious sport, get the *$#@ off the site if you want to call us out like that!

  9. Ron

    January 19, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Semper Fi brother Jay for giving Dan the sniveling “Fin” the medicine he needed ~ Go Steelers … One for the pinky (on the other hand)

  10. mark

    January 19, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Hey Ron and Jay, thanks for backing me up on this. Im not a fan of “dirty” football and with that said, the hits in question from Daniel the fish-fan are NOT dirty. Jay makes a great point on the hits that Ben has taken where there has been no flag, as well as the “bounty” B.S from the criminal element in Baltimore. Enough about aggressive, clean hits being labeled dirty by whiny,jealous fans who think because they played 3 years of football in high school they can educate us.

  11. Daniel

    January 20, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Oh I agree, Baltimore is dirty too. I’m obviously in the minority on this one but that’s cool. Like I said, I really respect the Steeler’s coach. I think he’s the best in football right now. Hopefully the superbowl will be clean and no injuries for either team.

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