The sting of the Baltimore Ravens loss to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday night is a whole lot more palatable now that the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football. After waking up Monday morning with a sour taste in our collective mouths from that letdown on the west coast, Ravens fans are wanting to send thank-you cards and Merry Christmas wishes to Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh for his holiday gift to the Ravens and their fans.
After having the light go out in Candlestick Park twice, San Francisco finally put out Pittsburgh's lights with the offensive combination of QB Alex Smith to TE Vernon Davis (Maryland) and defensively with an opportunistic secondary and rookie OLB Aldon Smith, who was all over a gimpy Ben Roethlisberger like white on rice.
Speaking of Big Ben, while it was impressive that he could even suit up, much less play, his left high ankle sprain took away his biggest advantage that makes him so dangerous, which is the ability to extend plays with his legs and big frame. He was virtually immobile in the pocket last night, and went down when grabbed a lot easier than he usually does.
Although he is a warrior on the field, it seemed that there obviously was so little confidence in his backup, Charlie Batch, who would have been more mobile than Roethlisberger and perhaps good enough to pull out a win. Now, Ben's status for the final two games will hinge on the Steelers thoughts on whether or not they believe the Ravens will falter again and they can capitalize and win the AFC North.
For now, the Ravens leapfrog the Steelers back atop the AFC North and with it, into the all-important second seed in the AFC playoffs. This honor comes with a home playoff game and a first round playoff bye. The road to the Super Bowl in the AFC currently goes through the New England Patriots, but this also means that if the Ravens win out, they get a week's rest and then a home playoff game and if the Pats lose, then Baltimore can host an AFC Championship Game for the first tie since 1971, when the Baltimore Colts beat the Oakland Raiders for the right to go onto victory in Super Bowl 5.