The Ravens, who finished 5-11 the previous season, reached the AFC championship game last January before suffering a bitter loss at the hands of their biggest rivals.
It was cold (the wind chill was 15 degrees) at Heinz Field on Jan. 18, and the Steelers harassed rookie quarterback Joe Flacco into throwing three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown by safety Troy Polamalu after the Ravens had closed to within 16-14.
WHAT HAPPENED: Led by a rookie head coach and rookie quarterback, the Ravens went further than anyone could have imagined. A wild card and sixth seed, the Ravens reached the AFC title game before losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion Steelers. The Steelers were up 13-0 in the second quarter before Willis McGahee scored on a 3-yard run with 2:40 left in the half. The Steelers added a field goal to make it 16-7 after three quarters. McGahee scored with 9:29 left in the fourth quarter to close it to two points, but Polamalu's interception and return gave the Steelers another cushion, and another interception of Flacco sealed the game.
KEY STATS: The biggest stat: four turnovers for the Ravens and just one by the Steelers. ... The Ravens' defense allowed the Steelers just 52 yards on 28 carries, but Ben Roethlisberger was 16-for-33 for 255 yards and one touchdown, a 65-yard scoring catch and run by Santonio Holmes. ... McGahee rushed for 60 yards on 20 carries and the two scores before getting leveled by Steelers safety Ryan Clark and being carted off the field.
QUOTABLE: "We'll move on, but we're a little disappointed at this point."
QUOTABLE: "This is our beginning. This is where we start. This is not an end by any stretch. We're excited to go forward and take the next step."
- John Harbaugh, Ravens coach
Source: Baltimore Sun archives