Poor Ravens...

It was a good season.. go Arizona!

"Ravens at Steelers AFC Championship Game Recap
The Ravens refused to quit on many occassions, but in the end, the Pittsburgh Steelers moved on to Super Bowl XLIII with a 23-14 victory. by Mike Duffy
Jan 18, 2009, 10:18PM

Faced with a win-or-die situation in Sunday’s AFC Championship tilt with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens simply refused to quit.

But in the end, that never-say-die mentality wasn’t enough to get the victory, as Pittsburgh will represent the conference in Super Bowl XLIII after their 23-14 victory.

It was a hotly-anticipated third grudge match between the NFL’s two best defenses, one that promised a smashmouth slug fest at Heinz Field. Both teams delivered, as multiple players were sidelined because of injuries.

Baltimore kept on coming back.

On the night’s very first play, safety Daren Stone suffered a concussion while covering the kickoff.

He returned in the second half.

Midway through the second quarter, cornerback Frank Walker, who started in place of the inactive Samari Rolle (groin), went to the locker room with a shoulder injury.

Walker just had the shoulder wrapped and came back out after halftime.

Cornerback Corey Ivy was helped to the bench after he was blindsided with a devastating downfield block from wideout Limas Sweed.

He was back out there after taking a short break.

They simply didn’t have the scoring blow when they desperately needed it.

The Ravens were actually in the game for much of the night. The Steelers didn’t make it a two-possession margin until kicker Jeff Reed connected on a 46-yard field goal at 3:33 in the third quarter, making it 16-7.

Reed actually opened the scoring on Pittsburgh’s initial drive. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who finished 16-of-33 for 255 yards, found receiver Hines Ward on a 45-yard bomb. The series stalled on Baltimore’s 16-yard line, however, and Reed split the uprights from 34 yards.

The Ravens posted two consecutive three-and-outs before Reed hit another field goal, this time from 42 yards.

That second one could easily have been a touchdown, however, if it weren’t for a savvy decision from head coach John Harbaugh.

When Roethlisberger found wideout Santonio Holmes at the 1-yard line during the drive, it seemed that Holmes actually lost possession as he was brought down. Harbaugh successfully challenged the ruling that it was a catch, moving the ball back to the 23. The Ravens’ defense then held strong to force the three-pointer.

The Steelers were strong defensively, as well.

Entering the game by allowing the least amount of yards in the league, Pittsburgh was as stingy as ever.

The Ravens did not convert their first third down until 12:06 in the second quarter.

It took favorable field position from a Jim Leonhard fumble recovery and subsequent 45-yard return to the Steelers’ 17, followed by a pass interference call in the end zone, to set up Willis McGahee’s 3-yard touchdown run.

McGahee, who totaled 20 carries for 60 yards, helped pull the Ravens to within two points with his second touchdown. A botched punt from Pittsburgh’s Mitch Berger gave the Ravens possession at midfield, and another pass interference call in the end zone set up McGahee’s 1-yard run.

Rookie quarterback Joe Flacco helped put the game out of reach for the Ravens when he threw an interception to Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, who returned it 40 yards for a game-clinching touchdown."


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