Originally Posted by RAVENS/WIZARDS/ORIOLES
what pittburgh post????
Read this, try to keep in mind the Steelers won by a single point on a last second field goal.
Ravens rematch ahead
Monday, January 05, 2009
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
At the risk of violating Mike Tomlin's most sacred rule -- sorry, coach -- let's look ahead and ponder a couple of delicious questions:
How would you like another Steelers-Baltimore Ravens matchup at Heinz Field in the AFC championship game Jan. 18?
Are you ready for a little more bounty talk and Spitgate revisited?
It's going to happen.
Write it down.
Wild-card weekend couldn't have turned out much better for the Steelers. Because of the results, they get a relatively weak opponent -- the San Diego Chargers --
at home Sunday in their first playoff game and won't have to go to Tennessee for the AFC title game. The Baltimore Ravens are going to take out the Titans Saturday.
Write that down, too.
The Chargers did the Steelers a favor Saturday by beating the dangerous Indianapolis Colts, 23-17, in overtime, thanks, in large part, to two defensive holding penalties and a facemask personal foul against the Colts on the Chargers' winning drive. Better that the Chargers come to Heinz Field -- especially if injured star running back LaDainian Tomlinson can't play -- than the Colts with the great Peyton Manning.
Then yesterday, the Ravens embarrassed the overmatched Miami Dolphins, 27-9. Clearly, they are better right now than the AFC's top-seeded Titans. Heck, they just might be good enough to beat the Steelers at Heinz Field, but who wants to waste time worrying about that now?
I'm going to cite Tomlin's don't-look-ahead rule on that one.
You can argue a home game Sunday against the Dolphins would have been the Steelers' easiest path to the conference championship game, and I won't disagree. The Dolphins were the worst of the AFC teams playing this past weekend. We also lose a little entertainment value with the Chargers as the opponent. It would have been great fun watching Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter squawking at Ben Roethlisberger and Willie Parker.
What's important is that the Chargers also are a lesser team than the Steelers.
They were an 8-8 club that made the playoffs only because the Denver Broncos gagged down the stretch. I don't buy that they're hot at the right time with five consecutive wins. I might buy it if Tomlinson were healthy, but he left the Colts game early with what appears to be a serious groin injury. It's hard to imagine backup Darren Sproles running for 100 yards against the Steelers the way he did against the Colts. Certainly, there's no way he gets 178 yards in kickoff and punt return yardage against the Steelers' coverage units.
Philip Rivers is a fine quarterback, better than fine if you look at his NFL-best 105.5 passer rating and 34 touchdown passes. But he struggled big-time in an 11-10 loss to the Steelers at Heinz Field Nov. 16. Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker James Harrison had interceptions and Harrison sacked Rivers for a safety. Rivers' passer rating was a season-low 44.4. It didn't help that, even with Tomlinson, the Chargers rushed for just 66 yards.
The Steelers, meanwhile, had one of their better offensive days, although you wouldn't know it by the score. They had the ball for a season-best 36 minutes, 31 seconds. Roethlisberger threw for 308 yards with no interceptions. Parker ran for 115 yards on 25 carries. Wide receiver Hines Ward had 11 catches for 124 yards. Blame the Steelers' season-high 13 penalties for 115 yards and tip your hat to the Chargers for keeping the outcome in doubt by sacking Roethlisberger four times and stopping running back Mewelde Moore on fourth-and-goal at the San Diego 1. But the Chargers won't be able to survive that kind of domination Sunday.
So, as long as the game doesn't come down to the punters ...
Did you see the way the Chargers' Mike Scifres kept pinning back the Colts?
I'll still take the Steelers despite Scifres' edge over Mitch Berger.
Here's one final thing to write down:
This isn't the last time you'll be seeing Berger's name in the paper. He'll be front and center in the news when the Steelers and Ravens play in the AFC championship game because he accused the Ravens' Frank Walker of spitting in his face in their game in Baltimore Dec. 14. So will Ward, the object of any number of bounties over the years by the Ravens players.
I can hardly wait.
Sorry, coach Tomlin.