Steelers Win Super Bowl XLIII – The Steel Curtain Rises Again!

The Steel Curtain Has Risen Again!

The 2008 Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers might not enjoy living on the edge, but they are certainly are a team that thrives on it. They lived on the edge throughout the 2008 regular season, and they finished the season true to form.

All season long, the Steelers treaded Bill Cowher’s oft cited “fine line between winning and losing,” and most often they came out on the right side.

  • And so it was again in Super Bowl XLIII, and for good reason.

Credit the Washington Post’s Michael Wilbon for being clairvoyant. He openly vacillated in his annual Super Bowl prediction column, ultimately concluding that the Steelers would “win 21-20, on the strength of a sack-strip-fumble recover in the final 90 seconds.” You can’t get much closer than that. Super Bowl XLIII will be remembered for a long, long time.

Santonio Holmes, Super Bowl XLIII, Steelers vs Cardinals, Santonio Holmes Super Bowl catch

Santonio Holmes game winning Super Bowl XLIII catch. Photo Credit: The SteelersWire

Super Bowl XLIII One for the Ages

Super Bowl XLIII was one for the ages. It had everything one could ask for:

  • A Cinderella story vs. a dynasty in the making
  • Well prepared and well executed coaching schemes vs. even better adjustments
  • PrimeTime plays made by PrimeTime players at critical moments

In the end, only one team was going to come out on top, and the Pittsburgh Steelers prevailed, but only after pushing the faithful in Steelers Nation to the edge of a collective heart attack.

In a game that was so evenly matched, what made the difference?

Its “We” Not “I” in Sixsburgh

Calm and closeness.

The scoreboard doesn’t really indicate how close the Steelers came to thoroughly dominating the first three quarters. The score was 20-7 entering the fourth, but easily could have been 28 to 7 had the Steelers been able to punch it in during their three goal line situations.

  • Had the Cardinals won, their defensive would have been the unsung heroes of the victory.

The Steelers not only had to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns, but the Cardinal’s defense made the adjustments they needed to make to prevent the Steelers from running the ball, and thereby controling the clock, during the second half. In the same vein, the offensive line, which had protected Ben so well in the first half, saw its pass coverage become leaky.

But you never would have known it watching the Steelers on the sidelines or in between snaps.

  • There was no finger pointing, no sighs of exasperation, no shouting matches.

Mike Tomlin has a different style than Bill Cowher but this year he has certainly succeeded in establishing a “there’s no ‘I’ in the team” mentality.

And that was the difference in this game.

Both teams have All Stars, and perhaps legitimate Hall of Famers. And as these caliber players are wont to do in big games, they delivered. James Harrison, Ben Roethlisberger, and Santonio Holmes (and perhaps LaMarr Woodley) all have a legitimate claim on the MVP trophy.

  • But had things gone the other way, the exploits of Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald would have become the stuff of legend and lore.

Mike Tomlin, Dick LeBeau and yes, Bruce Arians, had an excellent game plan that their players executed almost flawlessly in the first half, but Ken Whisenhunt, Russ Grimm, Todd Haley and their defensive staff adjusted well enough in the second half to take the lead with less than three minutes to go in Super Bowl XLIII.

But the Steelers came out on top because they held their poise and hung together.


Santoino Holmes could have actually caught Ben’s first pass in the endzone on the last drive. It slipped through his fingers.

  • Ben went right back to Holmes on the next snap and together they made one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history

On the drive that preceded Arizona’s first fourth quarter touchdown, the Steelers forced a 3 and out. As Kurt Warner walked off the field the cameras flashed to the world an image of an upset quarterback who was yelling in anger.

  • While Arizona did come back to score the next time they got the ball, you didn’t see Ben anything like that from Ben after the safety was scored, nor at any other moment in the game

After Larry Fitzgerald burned Ike Taylor and the rest of the Steelers secondary to put the Cardinals on top, Ben simply turned around and strapped on his helmet – he was ready to play.

  • Contrast that with the image of Kurt Warner after Holmes’s winning touchdown; he cast aside his towel in anger and shook his head with a aggravated sigh

All of this is superficial, of course, and it would be far too much of a stretch to say that Ben was more well prepared mentally to play than Warner, who had a fabulous game.

LaMarr Woodley, LaMarr Woodley Kurt Warner strip sack, Super Bowl XLIII, Steelers vs Cardinals

LaMarr Woodley ends Super Bowl XLIII by strip-sacking Kurt Warner. Photo Credit:

But considering the context, in the waning moments of the Super Bowl the contrast cannot be sharper.

  • Ben Roethlisberger relished having the ball in his hands with the game on the line…
  • …Kurt Warner seemed exasperated

Neither team’s execution on either side of the ball was consistent for four quarters. Both teams’ offensive units made history-making plays and their defenses made heroic goaline stands, but both teams’ units had some pretty large lapses mixed in between.

But the Steelers poise and camaraderie were consistent for four quarters. The men in Black and Gold never lost their belief in themselves nor their faith in one another. When faced with adversity, they persevered, they remained determined. And they did it together. That’s been the case all season.

And that’s why the 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers are Super Bowl Champions.

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Mike Tomlin’s Post Super Bowl XLIII Mantra “No Defend, No Repeat”

Less than 12 hours after becoming the youngest NFL head coach to ever win a Super Bowl, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is already focusing in his next one.


Perhaps its fitting that Bruce Springsteen played during half time at Super Bowl XLIII as he’s the man who laid down 80´s track “No Surrender, No Retreat,” because Mike Tomlin’s new mantra is “No Defending, No Repeat.”

At his post-Super Bowl press conference, Mike Tomlin announced that he did not want to hear the word defend or repeat.

You won’t hear me say ‘repeat’ or ‘defending,’ because it’s brand new [from here]… The thing I’m going to sell to our football team, we’re not attempting to repeat…. There will be 53 new men in there. A lot of the faces will be the same, but nothing stays the same in this game. Those that remain, the roles will change….

I think repeating and defending Super Bowl championships in today’s NFL is something of a misnomer. When I walk down the hallway [at Steelers headquarters] and look at the championships of the Steelers from the’70s, it’s the same faces in the same positions on those photos, in terms of the Steel Curtain and so forth. That’s not the reality of today’s NFL, to be quite honest with you. We’ll start with a new group of men — hopefully a lot of them will be the same.

In the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette book Cowher Power, Gene Collier wrote that he attended the post Super Bowl XL conference for one reason: he wanted to see how victory affected Cowher. Collier claimed he observed a change in Cowher, and less than a year later Bill Cowher began a hiatus from coaching and continues to this day.

Not so with Tomlin. He’s a head coach who is hungry for more and is already doing his part to make sure his players share the feeling.

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Steelers Win Super Bowl XLIII, Defeat Cardinals 27-23

The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Arizona in a nail bitter to beat all nail bitters 27 to 24 to win Super Bowl XLIII, and become the first NFL franchise to win six Super Bowls.

It was an incredible game.

Its hard to really know what to say, here at 2:10 am in Buenos Aires, with work looming tomorrow.

This game as a titanic struggle. Both teams saw their prime time players step up to make big plays. Both teams saw opportunities slip away.

  • You can’t even say the game came down to who wanted it more, because neither team was ready to yield.

At the end of the game, it came down to which team was able to deliver when it counted.

And on this night, it was the Steelers.

Its now 2:25 here in Buenos Aires, and works looms tomorrow. Check back later in the week, and we will have lots more to say about the game.

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Super Bowl XLIII Mike Tomlin’s Hour Arrives

“The standard of expectation does not change.”
– Mike Tomlin on injuries, and on his philosophy of football in general

Insist as he might that the story of the 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers is not about him, Mike Tomlin’s hour is at hand.

The Steelers will face off against the Arizona Cardinals today in Super Bowl XLIII in a match up that is anything, if unscripted.

  • The Steelers weren’t supposed to weather the NFL’s toughest schedule
  • Everyone knows that for the Steelers to thrive, their running game has to be dominant With four new starters, the Steeler offensive line wasn’t supposed to be up to snuff
  • Ben wasn’t supposed to survive the onslaught of opposing defenders
  • The Steelers weren’t supposed to win AFC Championship games at Heinz field

The Steelers played the NFL’s toughest schedule and came out 12-4. Their running game and offensive line might not be what they used to be, but they’ve been good enough. And although the excessive punishment Ben is taking has long term implications that are worrisome, Ben seemed to play better as the hits got harder. And with their AFC Championship victory over the Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers appear to have exorcized their Heinz field playoff demons.

When the playoff started, the script went like this: Indy would beat San Diego, giving the Steelers a chance to avenge their loss, Joe Flacco would start playing like a rookie and thus give the Steelers a shot at revenge against the Titans. The Giants would show they could live with out Plaxico, and the Steelers revenge tour would be complete.

  • Except none of it happened according to plan, just like Mike Tomlin’s becoming Steelers head coach.

By now we’re all tired of rehearing the story of how Dan Rooney passed over not one, but two of Bill Cowher’s lieutenants to select the a little known defensive coordinator from Minnesota to lead the Steelers.

Tomlin impressed with his 10-6 AFC North Championship season in his debut, but he entered 2008 facing a lot of questions that arose with the Steelers weak finish in 2007.

  • Mike Tomlin has answered everyone one of them, and more.
  • If Bill Cowher was loved by anyone in Pittsburgh, it was his players.

Yet, in two years Mike Tomlin has come in and made this team his own. He may not be as vocal as Cowher, but he is every bit as demanding. The quote that we led this article says it all, if someone is injured,

  • “the standard of expectation does not change.”

And that standard is excellence.

Tomlin has preached perfection from day one. And if the Steelers haven’t always been perfect, they have been good enough to win.

Super Bowl XLIII – Steelers vs. the Cardinals – the Final Analysis

So now it comes down to this. If the Steelers were denied second shots at Indy, Tennessee, and New York, the fates gave Tomlin a chance face off against the men he beat to earn his job, the same men who handed him his first defeat as a head coach.

Tomlin has often said that schemes are overrated, that it comes down to execution.

And so will Super Bowl XLIII.

  • Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald form the NFL’s most lethal quarterback receiver tandem.
  • Arizona has a tough defense and special teams that can hurt you.

Tomlin and company certainly have a good game plan prepared, but at the end of the day, it comes down to weather or not he’s got his players ready to play.

Santonio Holmes, Nate Washington, Limas Sweed, Hines Ward, and Heath Miller need to catch balls on offense. The offensive line must avoid those stupid pre-snap penalties. Ben Roethlisberger’s simply got to do his thing, and not worry about redeeming his poor performance in Super Bowl XL.

  • And the Steelers must play tough defense.

If Tomlin can get his men to do those things, then the Steelers playmakers will do what they have done all year long – Make big plays at critical moments.

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Super Bowl XLIII – A Look to Questions Past Gives Clues to Sunday’s Answers

“This group understands the standard that comes with being a Pittsburgh Steeler, and we’ve got some work to do.”
— Mike Tomlin, on why his players did not celebrate more after defeating the Baltimore Ravens.

The Steelers have come a long way and accomplished a since the convened training camp in Latrobe last July. But, as Mike Tomlin would say, they’re still writing their story.

It will be against the Arizona Cardinals that the Steelers will write the definitive chapter of their 2008 season. While true conclusions remain elusive until the final gun in Tampa, a look at what we’ve already learned about Tomlin and his players offers some insight into how Super Bowl XLIII will transpire.

2007 was a good year for the Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger proved that 2006 was a fluke, an AFC North Crown was added, and the Rooneys showed that they’re pretty good evaluators of coaching talent.

As impressive as his rookie campaign was, Tomlin and his Steelers started at St. Vincent with some real questions to answer. 10-6 is a respectable record, but the Steelers finished 1-4, and lost two home games to the same opponent for the first time in conference history. Besides, Steelers Nation does not seek respectability, it demands excellence.

In two separate articles, Steel Curtain Rising probed the areas that would determine Tomlin’s ability to deliver excellence. On the eve of Super Bowl XLIII, this is what we have learned so far and what it means for Super Bowl XLIII.

Is Mike Tomlin Too Chummy With His Coaches?

We won’t spend too much time on this, as the next two questions closely relate to this larger question. The suspicion at the time was that Tomlin was more like Noll and his mentor Tony Dungy than his predecessor Bill Cowher. The former men bent over backwards not to fire assistant whom they liked; Bill Cowher cut his lieutenants loose without a second thought.

  • Honestly, we do not know this answer yet, and probably will not for a long, long time.

But it is interesting to note that stories about the Steelers are no longer chalked full of quotes about how “great it is to work for a head coach that grants a wide degree of autonomy.”

Also interesting was Phil Simms comment that Tomlin had put his own, person touches on the DB’s pass coverage techniques. None of this means that Tomlin has become overbearing, but it does suggest a slightly different approach.

  • Implications for Super Bowl XLIII: Really, not many. Tomlin’s job is to get the Steelers players and coaches functioning harmoniously and thus far he has shown he is up to the job.

Should Bob Ligashesky Have Been Fired?

What a difference two weeks makes…. At the end of the regular season, the answer to this question looked like a solid “no.” Certainly, the Steelers were not getting any help form their return game. But during the 2008 season the Steelers kick coverage went from being acceptable, to good, to excellent. This stood in stark contrast to 2007, the blood lettng on the coverage teams never seemed to stop.

Special teams performance as slipped in the playoffs. OK, one can argue that Santonio Holmes electrifying 65 yard punt against San Diego cancels the long return by the Chargers.

That’s a great argument on paper that is really bogus in reality. During the Baltimore game the Steelers had 21 yard punt and only a personal foul penalty saved the Steelers from a devastating punt return.

  • Implications for Super Bowl XLIII: The Arizona Cardinals handed Mike Tomlin his first regular season defeat in 2007, largely on the strength of special teams. Bob Ligasheky’s must make sure this pattern does not repeat itself in Super Bowl XLIII.

Do Tomlin and Bruce Arians Philosophies Clash?

Ooh, my. Has Bruce Arians been a lighting rod for criticism this year, and Steel Curtain Rising has contributed its fair share. The root of the issue is simple. When he was hired, and many times since then Mike Tomlin expressed a commitment to attrition football.

  • Nonetheless, one of the first acts of the man he hired to be his offensive coordinator, was to phase out the full back.

And there you have your disparity.

On the eve of Super Bowl XLIII, this answer remains nebulous. Arains commitment to the run has been suspect to say the least.

In all fairness to Airans, he’s really hasn’t had the personnel to put together a power running game, with four new starters on offensive line, and a rash of injuries at the running back slot.

Still, in a late season on line chat, the Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette indicated that he thought Tomlin might not be completely happy with Arians’ play calling and game planning. (To be objective, Bouchette was quick to add that this was his impression, and did not go into much detail beyond a vague comment.)

  • Implications for Super Bowl XLIII: Going up against Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald, in addition to Arizona’s two other 1,000 yard receivers, it does not take a genius to figure out that ball control is going to figure prominently into the Steelers game plan.For the Steelers to succeed in Super Bowl XLIII, Tomlin and Arians must be on the same page.

Can the Steelers Protect Ben?

Early on, the answer to this question would have been “NO.” But the pass protection, and indeed the play of the entire offensive line has improved as the season progressed. Ben got the time he needed against San Diego, and while he did take four sacks against Baltimore, there are also plenty of snaps when he had time to pass.

The Steelers will only underestimate the Cardinals defense at their peril, but the fact is that while Arizona does field a good defensive team, these are not the Ravens.

  • Implications for Super Bowl XLIII: The line’s performance should have improved enough to give Ben the time he needs, if not it will be a long day.

Can the Steelers Close?

Man, what a difference a year, not to mention the return of Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu, makes. One of the most disturbing scenes of the Steelers 2007 season was the sight of the Steelers losing close games late in the 4th quarter, in a way that they never, ever did under Bill Cowher.

18 games later, the image the Steelers painted a very different picture. In 2008 the Steelers have been a team that as won games in the final two minutes, time and time again.

And its been a team effort, with contributions on both sides of the ball, and mercifully, cross your fingers, they’ve avoided shooting themselves in the foot on special teams (see above.)

  • Implications for Super Bowl XLIII: Once again, this is going to be the ultimate test. Kurt Warner is one of the quarterbacks in the league that can strike downfield at any moment, and at any time during the game. How many times have we seem him stuffed for 58 minutes, only to draw blood in the last two minutes?And he clearly has the weapons to throw to. These Arizona receivers know how to get their hands on the ball if Warner puts it near them.There’s no formula for stopping this. James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, James Farrior, Larry Foote and Lawrence Timmons company are simply going to need to get in Kurt Warner’s face up front. Aaron Smith, Casey Hampton, and Bret Keisel are going to need to stuff the run game and pressure the passer where they can.And Dick LeBeau is going to have to develop a plan that keeps Warner and Ken Whisenhunt guessing.

    The bottom line is that it comes down to execution. The Steelers simply need to do their thing, do it well and maintain focus for the full 60 minutes.

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Steelers Fans in Buenos Aires – Join the FAA for Super Bowl XLIII in downtown Buenos Aires

Greetings from Tandil, in la Provincia de Buenos Aires

Attention to all members of Steelers Nation who find themselves in Buenos Aires, Argentina for the Super Bowl XLIII.

Steelers fans ready to watch Super Bowl 43 with other devotees of the gridiron, now have a place to meet.

Bring your Terrible Towels, don your Steelers t-shirts and come down to the Run Bar in downtown Buenos Aires to watch our beloved Pittsburgh Steelers square off against the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl 43.

The FAA (Federación de Futbol Americano Argentino) will be holding their annual Super Bowl Party there.

  • Event: The Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII
  • Location: Run Bar, San Martin 875 in downtown Buenos Aires
  • Time: 8:30 pm, local time
  • Cost: 40 pesos, which includes tenedor libre de pizza and two drinks. The bar will also be offering Happy Hour specials throughout the game.

If you’re interested in coming, please reserve your space with the FAA, at

  • Please note, that as this is sponsored by the FAA, they will most likely be showing the Spanish language broadcast, and there will be Arizona Cardinal fans present at the event as well as fans from other NFL teams.

But if you’re a die hard of the Black and Gold, come out and show your spirit!

Not only will it be great chance to watch the game, but it will be an opportunity to meet the members of the FAA, Argentines who are true, hardcore fans of American Football.

The location is pretty easy to find, but por las dudas, here is a link from Google maps.,+Buenos+Aires,+Argentina&sll=-34.566938,-58.455591&sspn=0.051595,0.11158&g=arenales+495,+vicente+lopez&ie=UTF8&z=17&iwloc=addr

See you at Super Bowl XLIII.

Go Steelers!

Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Club of Buenos Aires

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Watch Tower: 2008 AFC Championship Varium

Kudos to Gary Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette for keeping his head about him to point out one very obvious coaching blunder by the Steelers that got lost in the glow of victory. In his Two Minute Drill column, Dulac called out Bruce Arians for calling the pass play on third and 1 after a 7 yard run by Willie Parker.

In his weekly chat Ed Bouchette indicated that the play was designed for Hines Ward, and well, Nate Washington didn’t run it like Ward would have. Obviously they did not convert.

This play followed the Steelers 21 yard punt, which, with the help of Ike Taylor’s pass interference call, gave Baltimore 7. Give Gary Russell a shot at pounding out one yard and you can take couple of three minutes off of the clock…. Good pick up Gary.

Letting the Cat Out of the Bag, Sort of

In the same article, Dulac committed a minor faux pax.

One of the most interesting things about keeping an eye on the media is trying to figure out what they know by can’t or don’t say.

Members of the Pittsburgh media watch every team practice, but they’re barred by agreement from revealing what they see. Hence, you’ll never see, “you know, don’t expect much of so-and-so this week because he’s had a really crappy week of practice.”

Commenting on Limas Sweed’s drop of a sure touchdown at the end of the first half against the Ravens, Dulac said: “Practice-watchers will record just another daily drop for the rookie.” In his weekly chat, Ed Bouchette confirmed the observation.

Given that that was Sweed’s second drop in as many playoff games, it’s not as if they’re giving away a big secret. One can imagine that both men’s press credentials are still secure.

Don’t Look Now But…

Literally, this means you cannot look now because you won’t find it. But one of the PG’s early articles on the game was chalked full of errors.

Mike Tomlin was quoted with out any attribution, just the quote and no indication of who it was from. That was after the writer asserted that Tomlin was the first coach to take a team to the Super Bowl in his sophomore season….

…a distinction which of course belongs to Joe Gibbs, who accomplished the feat in the strike shortened season of 1982.

These mistakes, however, were corrected by mid-day.

Regular readers of this site know very well that Steel Curtain Rising has little room to criticize others for typos and other types of syntax mistakes, but then again, we’re not getting paid, nor do we have an editor. (Well, the women in my life sometimes point stuff out. Help for which I am grateful….)

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Troy Polamalu Interception vs Ravens Sparks Steelers to AFC Championship

The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens fought it out on the turf at Heinz Field  while officially the stakes were “only”the AFC Championship and the right to go to Super Bowl XLIII the two teams played as if they were fighting for the right to claim the legacy of the Ray Nitschke, Dick Butkis, George Halas and Vince Lombardi.

  • The first two games between these two AFC North Rivals both went to the wire for good reason: These two teams are about as evenly matched as is possible.

Both are led by dominating, punishing defenses and bright young coaches. On offense what the Raven’s lack in experience under center in comparison to the Steelers, they make up for in a stronger offensive line and a more productive running game.

Games where the stakes are so high and the teams so close come down to a variety of factors. Coaching, seizing opportunities, will to win, and great players making plays.

Each element impacted the game, but in the end only one proved to be decisive.

Troy Polamalu, Steelers vs. Ravens, Steelers Ravens AFC Championship, Troy Polamalu Interception AFC Championship

Troy Polamalu’s sealed the AFC Championship for the ’08 Steelers over the Ravens. Photo Credit: Matt Freed, Post-Gazette

It’s [Not] The Coaching Stupid

John Harbaugh is nothing if not audacious. When his team got the ball the Ravens came out throwing, which was quite bold considering the quality of Pittsburgh’s defense.

This move cost him 3 points early on, and it took time for Baltimore to gain their footing. If you fault the man for his wisdom, you’ve got to admire his attitude. He and his staff were also quite astute in challenging Santonio Holmes‘ first long catch, as almost no one in the stadium saw that Holmes had lost possession.

Mike Tomlin had a solid game plan, and the Steelers defense got the better of the Ravens during the early going. Yet, for all of the third down conversions, there was a palpable disruption to the Steelers offense as soon as Hines Ward was lost.

You don’t miss what you’ve got until it’s gone, but the Steelers should have been better prepared for this kind of contingency. Bruce Arians, who has drawn more than his share of fire from Steel Curtain Rising, called a pretty good game, and stuck to his plan to run the ball, even when it wasn’t working as well as anyone would have liked.

Nonetheless, his decision to throw out of an empty set on third and 1 while protecting a lead was foolish. The fact that Hines Ward was to be the primary receiver in the original play makes the call more mystifying.

  • The uncertain will absolutely arise against Arizona in the Super Bowl, and the coaching staff must adjust better.

Credit both coaches for this game, but in the end, coaching did not make the difference.

Opportunity Knocks – Will Steelers or Ravens Answer?

The Steelers have lived on edge all season, and watching this game made one think that they like it that way.

Limas Sweed certainly does, dropping a sure touchdown pass, and then allowing embarrassment to lead led him to feign injury, costing the team a precious time out and ultimately a field goal too.

Chris Kemoeatu and Ike Taylor also appear to be fond of sailing close to the wind, as had penalties called on them that greatly contributed to Baltimore’s second TD. (I won’t single out Bryant McFadden, as his pass interference penalty was borderline at best.)

Yet if you credit the Ravens for scooping up of these hand-wrapped gifts, you must fault them for discipline at a critical juncture. The personal foul on Anthony Madison after the Ravens had returned a punt to the 40 set Baltimore back at a moment where momentum was clearly on their side.

Mistakes aside, Pittsburgh also made its opportunities, in the form of numerous scrambles by Ben Roethlisberger and his ad-lib touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes.

As important as these events were, opportunism would not rule the day.

Toughness Just the Price of Admission in Steelers vs. Ravens

The Steelers and the Ravens do not like each other. Both teams wanted a shot at the Super Bowl 43. Only one ticket to Tampa was to be had.

The result was a game played with an intensity seldom matched in today’s NFL. While momentum may have shifted back and forth, neither team showed any sign of backing down. The hits got harder as the final gun approached. Each side upped the ante when it came time to show who wanted it more.

The will to win has always been the requisite for admission when the Steelers and Ravens have played this year, but never a differentiating factor.

Troy Polamalu’s Vindicates Lynn Swann in AFC Championship

In his commentary for the video The Steelers of the 70’s in Their Own WordsLynn Swann said it best:

“Chicago has one Michael Jordan, who with the game on the line takes the ball in his hands, shoots and scores. Well, we had four or five guys who felt that they could do that on every single play.”

Steel Curtain Rising is not ready to elevate these Steelers to the status shared by their 70’s counterparts, not yet at least, but this team has some players who flat out make things happen.

Ben Roethlisberger has done it time and time again this year, against Baltimore, Jacksonville, Dallas, and then Baltimore again.

  • Hines Ward and James Harrison have also come through in the clutch.

The Ravens, with Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and perhaps some others, have their share too. But the Steelers simply have more, and that was the difference in the AFC Championship. And there is no better illustration of this than the decisive score.

After completing a masterful 20 yard completion that brought Baltimore to close to mid field, the Steelers held the Ravens to two yards on first.

LaMarr Woodley turned it up a notch and sacked Joe Flacco on second. That brought up third down and it was time for the Steelers stars to shine.

Flacco faded back to pass, but as he has done so often this year, James Harrison was there, arriving just in time to disrupt the rookie’s pass.

  • Troy Polamalu was in coverage. He read Flacco’s eyes, positioined himself, leapted, and came down with the ball.

Hollywood producers would not have scripted what followed next simply because no one would have believed it. From 40 yards out Polamalu tucked the ball under his arm, dodged and weaved, accelerated and reversed direction, zigged and zagged, lunged forward and then cut back, flying past defender after defender as he found the goal line.

In a single play the Troy Polamalu interception vs Ravens simultaneously exorcised Pittsburgh’s “Ghosts of AFC Championship games passed” and sealed Baltimore’s fate.

John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco have every reason to be proud, and just as Steelers Nation should know that this duo is going to a formidable force in the AFC North to say the least.

But for the moment, the Steelers, led by their playmakers, are the power in the AFC to be reckoned with.

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Steelers Fans Await Word on Hines Ward

Perhaps the only thing that dimmed the Steelers 26-14 victory over the Ravens in the AFC Championship was the prospect of seeing Hines Ward out of the lineup due to injury.

Ward ran around the edge of the stadium after the game, slapping hands of fans, and in the locker room he vowed that he would play in the Super Bowl.

During the first quarter of the game against the Ravens Hines Ward sustained what was described as a slight MCL sprain. It was announced that was was to have an MRI on Monday, however the Steelers did not release any news of the test.

Ward was seen walking through the Steelers complex without any difficult, and tight end Heath Miller told reporters he was sure Ward would be ready by Super Bowl XLIII.

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Steelers Defeat Ravens, Head to Super Bowl XLIII !

The Pittsburgh Steelers prevailed in one of the most hard hitting AFC Championship games to vanquish the division rival Baltimore Ravens by the score of 23 to 14.

This game was a war from start to finish, and Baltimore Ravens running back Willis McGahee has the thoughts an prayers of Steel Curtain Rising.

  • This was a back and forth battle from start to finish, but the outcome was sealed by Troy Poalamalu’s incredible interception and return for a touchdown.

Its 1:30 am in Buenos Aires, and work is awaiting tomorrow morning. Check back for a fully analysis tomorrow morning, as the Steelers prepare to face off against the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII

Go Steelers!

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