After the Winter Classic held at Heinz Field not so long ago, the AFC Divisional Playoffs began with two tough teams — the Pittsburgh Steelers against the incoming Baltimore Ravens. This should be one of the better games into the playoffs, and it certainly did not disappoint. This was a physical, smash-mouth, in-the-trenches game and an intense rivalry game.
Now to the post-game analysis of the game:
- Both running backs scored in the first quarter. The Steelers Rashard Mendenhall sc0red the first touchdown for his team and the game mid-first quarter, and the Ravens Ray Rice answered in the close of the first quarter with his 14-yard touchdown. However, neither rushing game of the Steelers or the Ravens was particularly effective as both running backs were held under 50 yards rushing and shut down.
- Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin‘s loss of challenges into the half was about as bad as Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid’s mishandling of timeouts. Luckily, the Steelers made adjustments into the half.
- The fumble that was caused by Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and picked up by tackle Cory Redding shifted momentum in Ravens favor tremendously. The Steelers offense imploded as the costly errors, turnovers and a missed field goal by Shaun Suisham changed the face of the game.
- Rashard Mendenhall’s fumble mid-second quarter was costly for the Steelers. Joe Flacco connected with Todd Heap for a 4-yard touchdown and the Ravens third touchdown of the game.
- The Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and the offense switched their focus from tight end Todd Heap in the first quarter to running back Ray Rice in the second quarter. It was an interesting chess game on the Ravens part, and the Steelers couldn’t find an answer for either in the second quarter.
- Ray Rice’s fumble early third quarter was costly for the Ravens, as it led to a Steelers touchdown from Roethlisberger’s tight end Heath Miller from 9 yards out.
- Joe Flacco’s interception by Ryan Clark late third quarter was as costly as another Steelers touchdown to Hines Ward for a tie game of 21-21.
- Terrell Suggs of the Ravens caused great interference in the backfield and tacked a couple of sacks on Ben Roethlisberger. Cory Redding created as much trouble.
- On the other side, James Harrison of the Steelers caused trouble in the Ravens backfield persistently.
One of the greatest rivalry games and one of the best playoff games of the 2010 playoff season ended with the Pittsburgh Steelers winning 31-24 at their home field. The Steelers fans did their part, and the stalwart defense did theirs. This was a game of penalties, turnovers, sacks, mental errors and team tackling. The Steelers are off into the AFC Championship game, and let the rally towels fly for now. Their next opponent, the New England Patriots, given current odds, won’t go down any easier.