AFC Divisional Playoff: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
On Saturday, Round 3 of what might be the NFL’s best rivalry will go down at Heinz Field as the Pittsburgh Steelers play host to the Baltimore Ravens — for the third time this season.
The first meeting between these two happened back in Week 4 — a 17-14 Baltimore victory. That day, the Ravens took advantage of a Ben Roethlisberger-less Steelers squad (he’d return after the Week 5 bye) to win an absolute nail-biter. QB Joe Flacco threw an 18-yard TD pas to TJ Houshmandzadeh with 32 seconds left for the win. While it was a solid divisional road victory for the Ravens, the Steelers couldn’t be upset with their performance, hanging with a potential 2011 Super Bowl betting contender despite starting Charlie Batch.
That loss also gave the Steelers all the juice they needed for the Week 13 rematch. Pittsburgh went out and won the second round 13-10 in an eerily similar fashion to the first game, but this time it was Roethlisberger providing the late-game theatrics, not Flacco. Big Ben hit RB Isaac Redman with a 9-yard TD pass with just 2:51 left to give the Steelers the win — moving them into first place in the division, a lead they’d never relinquish.
Which brings us to Saturday’s rubber match. If there’s an edge going into the game, it has to be with Roethlisberger and the Steelers — he’s 8-2 as a starter against Baltimore and has won six straight since 2006 — but it’s a negligible edge at best. Games between Baltimore and Pittsburgh always tight; consider the scores from the most recent meetings:
Dec. 5, 10: Pittsburgh 13, Baltimore 10 Oct 3, 10: Baltimore 17, Pittsburgh 14 Dec 27, 09: Pittsburgh 23, Baltimore 20 Nov 29, 09: Baltimore 20, Pittsburgh 17 (OT) Jan 18, 09: Pittsburgh 23, Baltimore 14 Dec 14, 08: Pittsburgh 13, Baltimore 9 Sept 29, 08: Pittsburgh 23, Baltimore 20 (OT)
Seven games, two OT decisions. Five games decided by three points. One game decided by four, one game decided by nine. That, folks, is a pretty heated rivalry.
— RB Mewelde Moore (knee) has returned to practice after missing the Jan. 2 game and will play on Saturday.
— LB Jason Worilds (knee) has been given a clean bill of health after missing the Jan. 2 game. He is one of the Steelers’ top special teams players and their top backup on the outside.
— Against KC, RB Jalen Parmele returned kickoffs for the fourth straight week because rookie David Reed is dealing with a wrist injury. He’s had a return of at least 29 yards in three of those games.