Posted on: January 19, 2009 6:30 pm
 

Super Bowl Bound

In the NFL, you can't find any two clubs that hate each other anymore than the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens do. You couldn't get a more ferocious match-up if you put a mountain lion and a tiger in a steel cage with no food. You know you couldn't trust any prediction, because like hungry dugs, these two teams would do anything to survive and to reach the Super Bowl. In a hard hitting third installment of this dramatic rivalry, the Steeler came out on top, now one victory away from the franchises sixth Lombardi Trophy.

Ben Roethlisberger would have to play well to go the second Super Bowl of his career, as the Ravens defense stuffed Willie Parker and the run game for only 54 yards. Things got grim early as halfway through the first quarter Hines Ward left the game with an injury. The Steelers offense did not perform as well a last week, but that was expected due to the Ravens defense being tougher than the Chargers. But Big Ben would play well enough to lead his team past their rivals. Although getting sacked four times, he didn't turn the ball over and threw a 65 yard touchdown to Santonio Holmes on a wildly improvised play. The offense played mediocre, but was enough thanks to a stellar performance by the defense.

It was to be expected that both defenses would flourish in this bitter rivalry, as it had in the past two match-ups that year. The defense rattled the so-called unflappable Joe Flacco, forcing him to throw 3 interceptions and sacking him three times, and he had neither turned the ball over or gotten sacked in two playoff games. The defense overall forced 4 turnovers, including the forced fumble caused by the ferocious hit Ryan Clark put on Willis McGahee. There is debate on whether the hit was dirty or not, but no flag was thrown on the play. The turnovers were timely as three of the four were with under five minutes to play in the game. The turnovers counted for 10 points, with 7 of them due to a Ed Reed like play from Troy Polamalu. That play sealed the game for the Steelers, but the game ended when Tyrone Carter got the final interception and then Big Ben took a couple kneels and the game was over.

For the Super Bowl, the Steelers offense will have to play well and hopefully Hines Ward will be back. If the defense plays just as spectacular as they did Sunday night and force turnovers, the Cardinals and their subpar defense will be in trouble.

Posted on: January 14, 2009 6:25 pm
 

Steel City Crush

The southern California Chargers looked out of place in the blustery city of Pittsburgh. It was like seeing a group of penguins at South Beach. Yet they started as if they were back in Qualcomm Stadium. Going up 7-0 proved to be one of the few Chargers highlights as the Steelers would go on a 28-3 run to put the game out of reach. The game finished at 35-24 as San Diegon scored two meaningless touchdowns late.

The Steelers offense looks like it's peaking at the right time. Coming into this game Willie Parker had only one 15+ yard run in the postseason (the 75 yard dash in the Super Bowl) and in this game he had two in his 146 yard, two touchdown performance. Ben Roethlisberger was able to stay on his feet as he was sacked only once. He was able to drive the Steelers down in the two minute drill right before half-time, and play ball control in the third quarter as the Chargers only had one offensive play in the third quarter, which was an interception by Larry Foote. The offense looked like an efficient machine, slowly and methodically grinding down the defense. Although the Chargers defense was tired and is below average, the Steelers offense played well nonetheless. When the Steelers needed a spark, for the first time they got it from special teams as Santonio Holmes took a punt 67 yards to the house. That was a big surprise as they were up against Mike Scifres, who got rave reviews from writers with his great performance against the Colts the week before.

The Steelers defense came out flat footed as the gave up a 71 yard drive that ended in a 41 yard pass from Philip Rivers to Vincent Jackson. But with help from the ball control offense coming from Big Ben and company, the Steelers defense got itself together. They had 4 sacks and an interception of Philip Rivers and held Darren Sproles to 15 yards rushing on 11 carries. They only played one play the entire third quarter, and were rested for the fourth quarter. Once the Steelers put the fourth touchdown on the board, the Steelers defense gave up two touchdowns that were less than detrimental to their cause.

The Steelers played well in almost all aspects of the game. They got their running game back and protected Big Ben who was coming off a concussion. With the Steelers controlling the ball and scoring that will put less pressure on their defense to play spectacular and give James Harrison, the Defensive Player of the Year, and Co. to get some much needed rest. The Steelers play the Ravens next week in Hienz field in a bitter rivalry match.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com