Baltimore came into Pittsburgh as the No. 6 seed and was faced with the tough matchup with their division rival. The only good news was that star running back Le’Veon Bell was out because of injury. Bell finished with the second most rushing yards this season and had allowed Ben Roethlisberger to open up the passing game more, with defenders keying in on the running back.
The Ravens came into the game with a plethora of injuries of their own though, with starting tackles Eugene Monroe and Ricky Wagner being the most notable. The team had also lost six cornerbacks throughout the year, which had caused many quarterbacks to take advantage of a weak secondary.
However, the story of the game was not about injuries, but of the great team-play by the Ravens. Joe Flacco lived up to his “Joe Cool” nickname and limited mistakes. He finished with 259 yards and 2 touchdowns, but most notably; zero turnovers. Flacco continued his historic playoff play and picked apart the Steelers secondary in the second half.
The second best player for Baltimore was offensive guard Kelechi Osemele, who made some incredible blocks in the game. One block opened up a huge hole for Bernard Pierce’s five-yard touchdown run. The other block allowed Joe Flacco to spin out of trouble and toss an 11-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith.
Justin Tucker came through as usual for the Ravens, as he hit three field goals, including a 52-yarder in the fourth quarter. Tucker has proven to have ice in his veins when kicking in the playoffs and the Ravens would not have won without him.
The offense took care of their part by putting up 30 points and the defense continued its bend but don’t break tendency. Baltimore pressured Big Ben all night and didn’t allow a touchdown to the Steelers until the fourth quarter. Big Ben was sacked five times in the game and he also threw two interceptions, including a crazy pass caught between Terrell Suggs’ legs.
John Harbaugh and the Ravens showed that they are a different team when the playoffs come around and that they are still very competitive; even with so many injuries. The Ravens are now tied with the Packers for the most road wins playoff history, which goes to show the young franchise’s winning nature.
Baltimore heads to Foxborough next to take on the Patriots and legendary quarterback Tom Brady. However, Joe Flacco is starting to build up a legacy of his own, as he has outplayed Brady in their last couple playoff meetings. Joe Cool now has 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions in his playoff career, including 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions in his last five playoff games. Baltimore will need Flacco to keep up this type of play in order to beat the Patriots.