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Old 01-05-2009, 07:59 AM   #1
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Default Ravens rematch ahead

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?

And:

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.

Oh, well.

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.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09005/939647-87.stm
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Old 01-05-2009, 08:13 AM   #2
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Default Re: Ravens rematch ahead

"That's why they play the games". And the last time we "looked past" the Bolts in a playoff scenario, we watched the SB on TV.

But a Stillers / rats III seems inevitable. And we did beat the rats (when they were the stains) thrice in '94. Bolts. rats. This is spooky.

The rats' defense looked scary yesterday.
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Old 01-05-2009, 08:28 AM   #3
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Default Re: Ravens rematch ahead

Of the possible choices Im not sure which one is the lesser team. Tennessee whooped us with a backup dline and the Rats always play us tough and we did beat them twice on down to the wire games. Kinda still wish Miami would have won so I can cheer for the Chargers to beat the Titans and for us to have an easier path to Tampa.
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Old 01-05-2009, 09:55 AM   #4
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Default Re: Ravens rematch ahead

That was a good read.

As much as I'd like to look past Tennessee, I can't. It's going to be a battle. I just hope Collins has flashbacks to Super Bowl Sunday of 2001 and the rest of the Titans have the same for the AFC Championship two weeks prior.

Nothing would please me more than a Steelers-Ravens rematch for the AFC Conference title. That would most likely outclass any SB match-up and would be the game of the year to watch.

Good luck against San Diego but don't look past them, either. One game at a time.
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Old 01-05-2009, 10:04 AM   #5
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Default Re: Ravens rematch ahead

we would like to play the Rats at the Q :)
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Old 01-05-2009, 10:39 AM   #6
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Default Re: Ravens rematch ahead

I want another steelers-ravens game so bad!!

Can't beat them 3 times a season? BS!!

Let's embarrass them for the 3rd time this season!! Another 4th quarter comeback!!

but on to san diego....
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Old 01-05-2009, 02:50 PM   #7
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Default Re: Ravens rematch ahead

Not taking the Chargers lightly but I would rather spend a week recovering from playing them than the Titans. Hopefully if we face Baltimore the Titans will have played them hard and worn them down a little bit. Thank goodness for the bye going in on fresh legs. A Baltimore-Pittsburgh Championship game would be historic.
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Old 01-05-2009, 03:04 PM   #8
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Default Re: Ravens rematch ahead

I do like that the Chargers are playing with zero pressure right now.

LT was only close to 100% healthy for 4 games this season. He was real big factor in the Denver game, but other than that... the offense has run through Rivers all year. Had Norv played Sproles early on, this team probably would have won 2-3 more regular season games.

So if this is an 11-5 or 10-6 Chargers team coming in without LT... would this article be any different? The Chargers would still be thought of as the weakest of the remaining teams.

This writer gives no regard to the improved Chargers D. That's the key to this game. The offense will run essentially the same, but with MORE firepower than last time the teams met. If the defense can hold that running game in check, Ben will not shred the secondary like he did last time.

Seriously. Forget about LT. He may have been a "key" for the defense, but Sproles is more explosive and way more likely to score on a big play than LT has been all season.

I'm sure the Steelers players know all of this. Just thought I'd point it out to those who may not have watched every Chargers game like I have.
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Old 01-05-2009, 03:27 PM   #9
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Default Re: Ravens rematch ahead

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Duke View Post
I want another steelers-ravens game so bad!!

Can't beat them 3 times a season? BS!!

Let's embarrass them for the 3rd time this season!! Another 4th quarter comeback!!

but on to san diego....
I'd prfer they didn't wait till the fourth quarter. Too hard on the nerves and blood pressure.
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Old 01-05-2009, 03:29 PM   #10
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Default Re: Ravens rematch ahead

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Duke View Post
Can't beat them 3 times a season? BS!!
Yes, history agrees with you. 3 times in 94 as the stains. And do you recall who was their coach? None other than Coach Cowher's then boy, the emerging bellicheat.

It can happen again. Man it'd be a brutal game.

And we beat the new stains thrice in 2002.
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