A 30-17 victory on the road at Pittsburgh is worth an “A” no matter what the score, but in this case they certainly earned it. Joe Flacco was, well, Playoff Joe Flacco with 2 TD’s and no INT’s. The Ravens made few mistakes in this game. Forsett fumbled and the team had 2 penalties, but they won the turnover battle 3 to 1 and were the more physical of the 2 teams. Now on to New England where they know how to win.
Kind of sounds like 2012, right?
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The offensive line played great without their starting tackles. They only allowed one sack and ran the ball well when they needed to. Flacco was classic playoff Joe. Steve Smith made some nice catches, as did Owen Daniels especially on 3rd down. 30 points on the road and scoring TDs instead of FGs gets it done most weeks.
They battered and bruised Big Ben, even knocking him out of the game for a bit. They allowed nothing on the ground and continued to be one of the best red zone defenses in the league, holding Pittsburgh to FG’s on their first 3 scoring drives. They forced Ben into mistakes with well designed pressure. Two interceptions and a forced fumble won the turnover battle. Suggs was fantastic. The pieced together secondary did what they needed to do.
Special Teams: B
Tucker was Tucker as he hit only the 4th 50+ yards FG in Heinz Field history, which gave the Special Teams a better grade than it otherwise would have gotten. The blocked punt due to a bad snap gave Ravens fans a chance to pause before the celebration began. Jacoby Jones needs to take a knee when 8 yards deep in the end zone.
Coaches/Game Plan: A
The team was ready to go! This staff knows how to prepare a team for the playoffs and especially road playoff games. No team in the history of football has been better on the road. They came out fast and strong and remained the more physical team all game long. They took the fight to the Steelers and came out victorious. I like the 4th and 1 call at the Steelers 49 with the Flacco sneak. I hated the 3rd and 1 call with the bomb to T. Smith. Yes it worked and a better WR drags his back foot for a TD, but at the time I wanted the ball and the clock to run.
On to New England! Happy Festivus!