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Old 01-12-2009, 09:48 AM   #1
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Default Ravens next on playoff road for Steelers

Ravens next on playoff road for Steelers
Monday, January 12, 2009

Curtains for San Diego. Bring on Baltimore.

The Steelers stomped the San Diego Chargers, 35-24, in an AFC divisional playoff game Sunday, setting up a conference title-game showdown against their bitter rival the Baltimore Ravens at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Heinz Field.

"What else would you expect us and the Ravens," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "It'd be a big game if it was a scrimmage. It just happens to be the AFC Championship."

The Steelers-Ravens winner will face the winner of the NFC Championship game, pitting the Arizona Cardinals against the Philadelphia Eagles, in Super Bowl XLIII on Feb. 1 in Tampa.

The Steelers won both regular-season games against the Ravens -- 23-20 on Sept. 29 at Heinz Field and 13-9 on Dec. 14 at Baltimore. The latter victory clinched the AFC North Division title.

Sixth-seeded Baltimore (13-5) upset the top-seeded Tennessee Titans, 13-10, on Saturday.

"They don't like us, we don't like them," Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton said. "Everybody knows that."

Steelers fans felt confident as they left Heinz Field, amid a light snow that fell like ticker tape.

"From here on out, the Steelers are bird exterminators," said David Farquhar of Crafton. "It doesn't matter if it's the Ravens, Eagles or Cardinals."

Added Jonathan Tonkovich, 6, of Zelienople: "The Steelers are going to the Super Bowl. Sometimes, they just kick somebody's butt."

A crowd of 63,899 saw Willie Parker run for 146 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger complete 17 of 26 passes for 181 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. The Steelers led, 14-10, at the half but dominated the second half and stretched their lead to 35-17 late in the fourth quarter.

The Steelers held the Chargers to just 15 yards rushing and sacked quarterback Philip Rivers four times. Steelers receiver Santonio Holmes returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown.

A win Sunday would set up either an All-Pennsylvania Super Bowl against the Eagles or an intriguing matchup against the Cardinals, who feature former Pitt star receiver Larry Fitzgerald and are coached by former Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.

First, the Ravens.

"I knew all year we were the two best teams in the AFC," linebacker Larry Foote said. "We hate them on the field, but we respect them."

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