The Ravens suck. Despite having a great defense over the last few years and seemingly always playing the Steelers close, they are now just 7-3 against the Steelers since the beginning of 2007, with 2 of those wins coming in the last 3 postseasons. Big Ben has started all 7 wins. The 3 losses were against Chuck Batch (2) and Dennis Dixon (1). I'm as vocal a Batch and Dixon supporter as you can find, but I think that stat shows how valuable a guy like Big Ben is to a team. To this team.
I decided to not post this yesterday since I was too busy celebrating the win and Sunday is historically an off-day at PSAMP. So you've undoubtedly already read countless recaps at this point. Whatever. Here's my thoughts on this game.
Ben: 19 of 32 for 226 yards and 2 TDs. Ben has been incredibly focused for a few weeks, and it has shown in his game this late in the season. It wasn't an Aaron Rodgers 31 of 36 performance or anything, but Ben made the most of his 19 completions. Flacco was a similar 16 of 30, but for only 1 score and a silly pick. Ben averaged 7.1 yards per pass and finished with a 101.8 QB rating. Flacco averaged 4.1 and rated at 61.1. So I think you can see the efficiency that I'm talking about. 4.5 of 5 motorcycle helmets. Can't get sloppy now.
Mendy: 20 carries for no yards and 2 TDs. The TDs make the low yardage output more than fine with me. The fumble was tough to take, but Mendy knew he had to make up for it and did with his second score. He's gonna need to make an impact one way or another in the AFC Championship Game. I'll take 2 scores every day of the week. 3.5 of 5 motorcycle helmets.
Defense: 5 sacks, a pick and 2 fumble recoveries. And Troy P. wasn't the guy showing up in the fashion-stats sheet. Silverback's 3 sacks were huge. Ryan Clark played one of the best games of his career with the INT and fumble forced. They had the Ravens under 100 yards of total offense for a huge part of the game. Baltimore finally got the offense on track and finished with a whopping 126 total yards. 4.5 of 5 motorcycle helmets. Incredible to watch these guys.
Game parellels: Gotta thank Adam for the kick-start. He shared some links of the 1995 season AFC Championship Game against the Colts prior to this weekend's game, and I spent much of the time leading up to Ravens/Steelers reliving this amazing memory. The parallels between the ends of both that win over the Colts and this most recent win against the Ravens are pretty cool, despite the lack of a failed Hail Mary in 2011. The Steelers used a TD drive with only a handful of minutes left in both games to take the lead before the Colts/Ravens failed in immediate response to end the games. On both of those late-game drives, a Steelers receiver caught a bomb down the right sideline which took them out of bounds within the 5-yard line. Ernie Mills took a Neil O'Donnell heave 37 yards to set up a tough goalline TD by Bam Morris right into the line back then. This time, Antonio Brown went 58 yards to set up a tough goalline TD by Rashard Mendenhall right into the line. Which means I can use this great TD reaction from Greg Lloyd in that game with reckless abandon:
5 of 5 helmets. Now we just have to win another AFC Championship game at home like we did against the Colts. And the tie-in will be complete.
Cheap Trick: Yet another up-and-down game for the Dream Police. As usual, I played it just twice, once prior to the 1st half and 2nd half. The Steelers did score an early Mendenhall TD, but stalled out until the later. And the Steelers didn't use the good luck in this song right away in the 2nd half, and had to punt on their opening drive of the 3rd quarter. But then they went off for 24 points in the half, so there's no reason to give up on this song for the remainder of this season. 3 of 5 motorcycle helmets. 11-3 on the season. Need 2 more wins.
Jets at 6:30 PM. Sunday. Heinz Field. There's one big way to forget the Jets winning in Heinz a few weeks ago. Get it done.
(thanks to Doug for the banner pic)