Although the Baltimore Ravens fans loved their convincing 30-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in last week's Wild Card playoff game, recent history has proved that this weekend's battle at the Pittsburgh Steelers will not be decided until the game's final moments.
The Ravens and the Steelers have met six times in the regular season since 2008 and all six games were decided by four points or less. In fact, the last five in a row have been won by the margin of a field goal, including both games this season. Only the controversial 13-9 defeat to Pittsburgh in 2008, in which Ben Roethlisberger's TD pass to Santonio Holmes was questioned as to whether it crossed the goal line, was the winning margin more than three points.
In the AFC Championship Game that same year, the Steelers won the game 23-14, but the Ravens were within two points late in the game until some guy named Pola-something changed all that.
When you look at the games that these two teams have played over that span, you've seen as much a street battle between two gangs as you have a football game. The fans fuel the fire all week and occasionally you get that trash-talk from the players as the so-called "bulletin-board material," but something tells me these two teams will need no help getting psyched up for this one.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said the other day that he was "glad that Haloti Ngata broke Ben Roethlisberger' nose in the last game" What Ravens fans wasn't, and it obviously didn't affect the outcome as the Steelers managed to "steal" a win in the closing minutes once again.
Interestingly, both teams won on the road this season, setting up another great contest, which will now be the rubber game in the three set match. While the Steelers have had a two week rest, the Ravens played what was perhaps their most complete sixty minutes in dismantling the Chiefs and giving them a lesson on what AFC North football was all about.
the other AFC match-up pits the New York Jets going to the New England Patriots in another rubber game contest, but the Patriots totally destroyed the Jets 45-3 in their last meeting and while we might not see that same margin of victory, the rivalry cannot come close to what the Ravens-Steelers guarantee each time the two teams step out onto the same gridiron.
Saturday afternoon's should be no different and why not? What has became the best rivalry in the NFL and perhaps in all of the sporting world is the one the NFL and the networks were hoping for. They got what they wanted, we got what we wanted, so now let's get in on!