The Pittsburgh Steelers were the better team on this wintry night at Heinz Field and earned the AFC championship with a 23-14 win over the courageous Ravens.
For the 2nd straight week, longtime NFL observers were calling this one of the hardest hitting games they've ever seen. In the end, the Ravens who were 7 in turnover ratio in their first 2 playoff wins, couldn't overcome 4 turnovers.
Let's not play the blame game gang; the Steelers won this game more than the Ravens lost it. Playoff tested Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu came up BIG in the big game.
Typical of John Harbaugh's team, they battled out of a deep hole. With under 5 minutes left, they were driving for what might have been the game-winning points when Troy Polamalu went "Ed Reed," and put it away with a 40-yard pick-6.
It's a crushing loss because the Ravens were within a few minutes of a trip to the Super Bowl. It's especially hard on veterans like Ray Lewis and Derrick Mason, who understand these opportunities are limited and know there's no promise they'll ever come around again.
It's a bitter pill for a team that believed in itself when few others did. Like many of you, I had no clue how good this team could be. Here's what I wrote coming into the season.
Not since 2002 have Ravens fans had such low expectations. I can't ever remember a Ravens' team coming into a season with so much baggage.
There's the transition to a new coaching staff and learning coach Cam's offense, toss in a rookie QB, one of the most inexperienced offensive lines in the NFL and a boat full of injuries, and you have the ingredients for a horror show.
It was far from a horror show, the season was a SMASH HIT; this was an Oscar winning performance by John Harbaugh's mighty men.
They didn't win the division, the conference or the Super Bowl, but these Ravens won the hearts of their fans with their one-for-all, never quit attitude. They improved from 5 wins to 13.
There's no consolation prize, but in the days and weeks to come, these Ravens should reflect on this amazing run and know they did something special.
In the end, we'll remember that this was a TEAM! And a team Baltimore is damn proud of.
3 and out!
Long-time and respected broadcast journalist Scott Garceau has covered Baltimore sports, including all of its pro football teams, for the last 30 years. Scott, who was the radio voice of Ravens football for the team's first 10 seasons (1996-2005), is a seven-time Maryland Sportscaster of the Year. Garceau is also honored as Baltimore's Pro Football Hall of Fame selector/voter. A native of the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, where he is a member of the area Hall of Fame, Scott has covered the NFL since 1971.