Ravens, history or no

FACEOFF

Who Wins The Afc Championship - Ravens Or Steelers?

January 16, 2009|By DAVID STEELE

True, the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Ravens twice in the regular season and being close doesn't count for Baltimore. True, the Ravens went just 2-5 against teams that reached the NFL playoffs. True, their quarterback is a rookie, and the opposing quarterback has won a Super Bowl. True, the game is in Pittsburgh, where the Ravens have won once in their past seven trips.

Doesn't matter.

The Ravens are better now than either time they played the Steelers, even more than they were just a month ago. That was four wins ago, including two in the playoffs and one regular-season game that was virtually a playoff game for both teams, in Dallas.

The rookie quarterback, Joe Flacco, is far better than he was either time against Pittsburgh. It's simple for him: Don't commit turnovers, make smart plays instead, and he'll be fine. He made those mistakes regularly in both Steelers games. But he has hardly done it since, and against at least three solid defenses: Dallas, then Miami and Tennessee in the playoffs.

As for defense, yes, the Ravens can force Ben Roethlisberger to make mistakes, just because they do that to everybody. And do you really want to bet that this defense would allow another 92-yard drive with the game on the line? Or 91 3/4 , depending on what you thought of that replay decision.

All told, the Ravens are as capable of winning a close game, on the road, against an elite opponent, as the Steelers are. They did it last weekend in Tennessee. They will do it this weekend in Pittsburgh. Ravens, 20-17.

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