They were what we thought they were. The best damn defenses in the NFL, smash-mouth, old school football in stereo. The only thing missing was mud on the uniforms.
How good was the defense? There were 58 running plays in this game; none gained more than 10 yards. In the end, the Ravens lost by an inch and a half second. The game went 59 minutes and 17 seconds without a touchdown before Ben Roethlisberger made "the play" during "the drive."
The play clinched Pittsburgh a division title; Ravens fans will debate the play 25 years from now. I suspect years from now a Zupbruder-like film (more likely a tape) will be introduced that shows the Steelers indeed came up short.
Let's break down "the play"
It starts with Big Ben rolling half way to Oriole Park. With nobody open, he reversed his field heading back toward Glen Burnie.
With his internal clock signaling trouble, Ben says he was about a half second from throwing the ball away incomplete. Instead he spotted Santonio Holmes open and fired a 4-yard game-winning TD.
But was it really a touchdown? The officials first ruled the ball was just short of the goal line bringing up 4th down. But upon further review, referee Walt Coleman said Holmes had possession in the end zone and the ball broke the plane of the goal line for 6 points.
Now, I didn't see it on a big screen, Hi-Def, super surround sound set like some of you, but I sure didn't see the indisputable evidence it takes to change a call.
There was no whining in the Ravens locker room. Ray Lewis called it a great football game and said the call didn't win or lose the game. Terrell Suggs said you can't get in a position to let a call determine your fate. (John Harbaugh did say he didn't think the ball broke the plane.)
While Ravens fans will debate the inch or two, there's no debating what Ben Roethlisberger did. With the game on the line, only 3:36 left and facing the rugged Ravens defense, he drove his team at least 91 yards, 2 feet and 11 inches for the win.
- It's tough to win when you have three drives to your opponent's 10 yard line (10, 10 and 8) and can't get a touchdown.
- I doubt Sam Koch will break Kyle Richardson's Ravens single season record of 39 punts inside the 20 (Koch has 31), but he had a terrific game pinning the Steelers inside the twenty 4 times, and 3 times inside the 8.
- Instincts, good hands and ability to get up field (North and South no dancing) make Jim Leonhard the Ravens best punt returner.
- Injured but still kickin: Despite a sprained kicking ankle Matt Stover was a perfect 3 for 3. Since his early season slump Stover has hit 17 of 19. He's on my team.
- If the Ravens win their remaining 2 games they're in the playoffs.
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.