It was not pretty but the Steelers are on their way to the Super Bowl for the seventh time in franchise history where they will look to become the most successful franchise in NFL history with a sixth Super Bowl title.
How did Pittsburgh get back to the Bowl? They beat up the rival Baltimore Ravens in snowy and cold Pittsburgh Sunday night.Offensivley the Steelers had trouble at times navigating through the tough Ravens defense, but they found ways to eat up enough clock with short passes and a decent running game. But the story of the day had to be the Steelers defense. (What else is new!)
The Steelers defense dominated the Ravens entire offense, putting tons of pressue on rookie Joe Flacco, who was completely flat tonight. Statistically, Flacco was 13 of 30 for 141 yards and three interceptions, which comes out to a quarterback rating of 18.2.
Still, the Ravens found a way to hang around. Entering the fourth quarter down 16-7, the Ravens took advantage of good field position to stick the ball in the end zone to put some heat on the Steelers. Flacco hit Mark Clayton for 16 yards to get the ball to the Pittsburgh 42. Later he connected with Derrick Mason on gains of 14 and 11 yards to get to the Steeler 24 yard line. Willis McGahee finished it off with a one yard touchdown to make it 16-14.
Just when the Ravens had taken all the momentum away from the Steelers, they gave it back. On punt coverage, a Raven player violently threw a Steeler to the ground while out of bounds. The result was a 25 yard pentaly that cost Baltimore good field position at their own 41 yard line. Instead the Ravens started at their 14.
The field position turned out to be key. While under duress Flacco tried to force a pass to Mason, but it was picked off by Troy Polamalu, who sprinted through the Ravens offense for a 40 yard touchdown. Ball game over.
Scary moment. Late in the game, as the Ravens tried to make one last comeback; Willie McGahee collided head to head with Ryan Clark, causing McGahee to fumble. Both players were on the ground for several minutes. Clark got up woozy and slowly walked to the sideline, but McGahee never got up. He remained on the ground and had to be tied to a board and put onto a stretcher. Usually when players suffer a bad injury and have to be wheeled off, they motion to the crowd with a gesture. McGahee did not gesture at all. It is not known how the running back is doing at this moment in time.
As for the Steelers, they were the best team from start to finish this year, so, in a way, it is fitting that they have made it to the big show. No team faced a tougher schedule than the Steelers, and they met that, along with injuries to their quarterback and running back and still found a way to win 14 games this season.