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ExtremeRavens: The Sanctuary



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12/14/08: Steelers 13 at Ravens 9. Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger connects on 4-yard TD to WR Santonio Holmes with 43 seconds remaining. Steelers’ defense limits Baltimore to 202 total net yards.



9/29/08: Steelers 23, Ravens 20 (OT). Pittsburgh K Jeff Reed converts all 3 FG attempts, including 46-yarder in OT. Steelers LB LaMarr Woodley has 7-yard FR-TD in 3rd quarter.



1/20/02: Ravens 10 at Steelers 27. Pittsburgh defense limits Baltimore to 150 total net yards & forces 4 turnovers. Steelers WR Plaxico Burress finishes game with 84 yards, including 32-yard TD.



CBS (6:30 PM ET): Jim Nantz, Phil Simms. Westwood One Radio: Dave Sims, Dennis Green, John Dockery (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 124 (WW1); 125 (Bal.), 127 (Pit.). XM: 124 (WW1); 102 (Bal.), 103 (Pit.).







Flacco ®: 257-428-2,971-14-12-80.3

Roethlisberger: 281-469-3,301-17-15-80.1



L. McClain: 232-902-3.9-10

Parker: 210-791-3.8-5



D. Mason: 80-1,037-13.0-5

Ward: 81-1,043-12.9-7







+13 (3L)




261.1 (2L)

237.2 (1L)



Suggs: 8.0

J. Harrison: 16.0 (2C)



Reed: 9 (1L)

Polamalu: 7 (T2L)



Figurs: 6.0

Holmes: 6.6



Figurs: 21.0

Russell: 23.2



Koch: 45.0

Berger: 41.3



Stover: 122 (41/41 PAT; 27/33 FG)

Reed: 117 (36/37 PAT; 27/31 FG)



TEAMS MET in 2001 Divisional Playoffs (1/20/02), won by Pit, 27-10…Head coaches JOHN HARBAUGH (16) & MIKE TOMLIN (32) 48 games stand as 2nd fewest combined regular season career games for opposing coaches in conference/league championship game in Super Bowl era (42; John McCafferty & John Madden) …Since 1970, home teams are 50-26 (.658) in conference championship games…Marks 2nd meeting between NFL’s top 2 defenses in conference championship game since 1970 (Los Angeles vs. Dallas, 1978).


RAVENS: Club has won 11 of past 13…Ravens have 5-1 (.833) road record in postseason…In past 13 (incl. Div. win at Ten.), Ravens average 147.0 rush yards per game (1,911 total rush yards)…With playoff win last weekend, rookie QB JOE FLACCO (1st round, No. 18) became 1st rookie QB to win 2 playoff games in NFL history…In past 13 (incl. Div. game), Flacco has completed 187 of 329 passes (56.8 pct.) for 2,423 yards with 14 TDs vs. 5 INTs & 88.0 passer rating. Club has 7-1 (.875) record in past 8 on road & Flacco has 10 TDs vs. 2 INTs & 95.8 passer rating…RB WILLIS MC GAHEE has 3 rush TDs in 4 career games vs. Pit. Playing in his 1st postseason, McGahee has 94 rush yards on 19 att. (4.9 avg.), incl. long of 48 yards…In past 4 (incl. Div. game), FB LE’ RON MC CLAIN averages 74 rush yards per game (296 total) & has for 4 TDs. McClain selected to 1st career Pro Bowl…Since ’03, WR DERRICK MASON ranks 2nd in NFL with 549 regular season receptions (TORRY HOLT, 573). Last week, registered postseason long 48-yard TD. Mason posted 8 receptions for 137 yards (17.1 avg.) in last meeting at Pit…TE TODD HEAP registered career high 146 yards at Pit. (12/22/09)…Club led NFL with 26 INTs (2nd most in Ravens history) in ’08 regular season & has 9 INTs in past 4 games…Club aims for 11th consecutive game with INT in playoffs…In 4 career postseason games, S ED REED has 5 INTs. Reed tied career-high with 9 INTs in ’08 & has 4 in past 2 games. In past 8 games (incl. Div. game), Reed has 10 INTs, 2 FRs & 3 TDs (2 INT-TDs; 1 FR-TD)…Bal. has not allowed RB to gain 100+ rush yards in 10 consecutive postseason games (3rd longest active streak)…LB RAY LEWIS had 2 FF in only playoff meeting vs. Pit…CB SAMARI ROLLE registered 3rd career postseason INT last week…Club had 5 players selected to Pro Bowl (Lewis, McClain, Reed, special teamer BRENDON AYANBADEJO & DE TERRELL SUGGS).


STEELERS: Team has 29-19 (.604) postseason record & is 17-9 (.654) at home in playoffs...Including postseason, team has won 7 of past 8 home games against Ravens…Club clinched AFC North title for 2nd consecutive season under head coach MIKE TOMLIN…QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER has 6-2 (.750) postseason record & has completed 135 of 215 passes (62.8 pct.) for 1,728 yards with 13 TDs vs. 11 INTs & 86.7 passer rating. Incl. postseason, Roethlisberger has 30-10 (.750) career record at home. Incl. playoffs, team is 29-2 (.935), when Roethlisberger has 100+ passer rating. Roethlisberger has 5-3 (.625) record vs. Bal…In past 2 postseason games, RB WILLIE PARKER totaled 239 rush yards (6.5 avg.), incl. 75-yard TD run (longest run from scrimmage in SB history). Last week, Parker registered 3rd highest postseason rushing total in franchise history with 146 yards & had 2 rushing TDs. Club has 5-0 record with Parker in postseason…With 70 yards last week, WR HINES WARD ranks 1st among active players with 966 postseason receiving yards & needs 34 yards to become only 8th player since 1970 to record 1,000 career postseason receiving yards. In past 5 home playoff games, Ward has registered 4 100+ receiving yards (104, 105, 109, 135) and has 104.6 yards per game average. Ward (1,043) posted 5th season with 1,000 receiving yards in ’08. In 6 career games vs. Bal., WR SANTONIO HOLMES averages 18.7 yards per catch (22 rec. for 411 yards) & 5 TDs…In 6 playoff games, TE HEATH MILLER has 18 receptions for 229 yards (12.7 avg.) with 2 TDs…Aims for 3rd consecutive playoff game with TD. Has 4 TDs against Bal. (most vs. any opponent)…Defense ranked 1st in NFL allowing 13.9 points per game in ’08…Pro Bowl LB JAMES HARRISON set franchise record with 16 sacks…LB LA MARR WOODLEY has posted 4 sacks in 1st 2 postseason games & aims for 3rd consecutive postseason game with 2 sacks…Pro Bowl S TROY POLAMALU totaled career-high 7 INTs in ’08.


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STORYLINE: There are rivalries, then there’s “Ravens-Steelers.”


“It’s going to be a battle,” says Steelers QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER. “I have a feeling it’s going to be one for the ages.”


Wow, that puts it in perspective! Indeed, these two tough teams – ranked first (Steelers) and second (Ravens) in NFL defense this year – are serious competitors. They meet twice a year in the AFC North and it always seems to be a pitched battle. This year, Pittsburgh swept both games – barely. They won in overtime 23-20 on September 29 and then 13-9 on December 14.


If the Steelers win Sunday, it would be only the 12th time in the 56 instances that teams have met three times in a season since 1970 that a three-game sweep occurred.


Think RAY LEWIS and the boys will be pumped not to let that happen? The Ravens led the league in takeaways this year (34) and won the turnover battle (8-1) against Miami in the Wild Card and Tennessee in the Divisionals. Roethlisberger will have to contend with ball-hawking safety ED REED, who led the NFL in pickoffs this year (9).


Meanwhile, the Steelers will be “blitzburghing” rookie QB JOE FLACCO, who threw only five interceptions over the Ravens’ final 11 games. Including the playoffs, the first-round draft choice from Delaware is 7-3 on the road. “You look in his eyes at big moments and you try to read his eyes but there’s nothing to read,” says Baltimore TE TODD HEAP of the unflappable Flacco. “He’s always the same.”


Flacco will be harassed by a stellar Steelers linebacking crew led by the Associated Press’ 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year JAMES HARRISON, who set the club’s sack record this year (16.0). But Harrison is not the only potent weapon on the Steelers’ LB corps. LA MARR WOODLEY had 11.5 sacks in his first year as a starter and JAMES FARRIOR led the team in tackles (146) for a defense that gave up the league’s fewest points (223), allowed only one team to gain 300 yards and did not permit a 100-yard rusher or 300-yard passer.


And if it’s a cold, bitter Pittsburgh day? That’s OK. Each team’s running game seems to be well in gear. Steelers RB WILLIE PARKER looks to be healthy again and comes off a vintage Parker 27-carry, 146-yard, two-TD day Divisional. The Baltimore RB load will be carried by Pro Bowl FB LE’ RON MC CLAIN and WILLIS MC GAHEE, who evenly shared 24 carries last week.


So the final playoff game before Super Bowl XLIII will be a big-time rivalry matchup. “It would be a big game if it was a scrimmage,” says Steelers head coach MIKE TOMLIN of Sunday’s grudge meeting. “This is for the AFC Championship.”


Twosome to watch: The starting AFC Pro Bowl safeties – Baltimore’s Reed and Pittsburgh’s TROY POLAMALU -- will be all over the field. “It’s about playing a physical football game and causing turnovers,” says Reed. Between them, they had 16 interceptions this season (Reed, 9; Polamalu, 7).

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Hot clubs looking to book travel to a hot climate.


It has all come down to the final four teams of the 2008 NFL playoffs -- the streaking Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers -- and their quest this Sunday to play in sunny Tampa Bay, Florida in Super Bowl XLIII on February 1.


But first, there is the hurdle of the conference championship games on Sunday when the Eagles visit the Cardinals at 3:00 PM ET on FOX and the Ravens play at the Steelers at 6:30 PM ET on CBS.


“We’ve got another week of work,” says Eagles quarterback DONOVAN MC NABB, gladly. Indeed. There’s another big day looming, and those teams that have taken these playoffs and turned them upside down will be ready to produce more surprises and then some in the championship games:


· The teams are hot! Since their midseasons (their final eight games, plus the playoffs), Arizona has won six of its last 10, Baltimore eight of its last 10, Philadelphia six and a tie in its last 10, and Pittsburgh seven of its last nine. That adds up to a combined .705 winning percentage heading into Championship week.


· The championship quarterbacks have an impressive playoff record – even the “Unflappable Flacco,” as he is being called. They pack two Super Bowl titles (BEN ROETHLISBERGER and KURT WARNER), four Super Bowl appearances (McNabb, Roethlisberger and Warner), and eight championship game appearances (the latter three). The fourth quarterback in action Sunday? That’s Baltimore’s JOE FLACCO – the “Unflappable Flacco” – who has become the first rookie QB to win his first two playoff games.


· These guys are relentless! They don’t seem to care where they were seeded -- they keep coming! “We’re not through yet,” says Baltimore linebacker BART SCOTT. This is the first time since the NFL went to 12 playoff teams in 1990 that two No. 6 seeds (Baltimore and Philadelphia) have made the championship game round. Recent history is on their side. In 2006, sixth-seeded Pittsburgh won Super Bowl XL, winning all their games on the road. The fifth-seeded New York Giants won all road games, too, last season in taking Super Bowl XLII.


· Road warriors? That they are. So far, the road team has won five of the eight playoff games, tying the 2005 playoffs for the most in those two rounds since 1990 when the NFL went to 12 playoff teams.

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Hey crav, what do you think about this?


Zach: I go to the University of Michigan and one of my roommates is a die-hard Steelers while I'm a die-hard Ravens fan. What do you think is the best way I can get into his head?


Mike Preston: Shave his head bald when he goes to sleep at night, or paint his Terrible Towel purple.


Personally, I like Steelers fans, especially the old ones. They remind me a lot of the old Baltimore Colts fans, who were very passionate about their home team.



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