Steelers Drop Ravens 23-14, Head To Super Bowl 43
In another war with division rival Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers ended up winning the AFC Championship Game 23-14 to advance to Super Bowl 43 to play the Arizona Cardinals. The game as expected was a hard hitting game, but the Steelers defense once again saved the day. Safety Troy Polamalu intercepted a Joe Flacco pass with 4:39 left in the game and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown. The Steelers offense looked shaky through most of the game after losing wide receiver Hines Ward to a knee injury in the first quarter. The Steelers started the scoring on the opening drive with a 7 play, 50 yard drive ending in a Jeff Reed 34 yard field goal. After another first quarter field goal by Reed, the Steelers moved to a 13-0 lead on a Ben Roethlisberger 65 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Santonio Holmes. Roethlisberger for the day was 16-33 passing for 255 yards and one touchdown. Running back Willie Parker carried the ball 24 times for 47 yards against a stingy Ravens defense.
The game was marred by several hard hits, most notably a hit by Steelers safety Ryan Clark on Ravens running back Willis McGahee late in the game in which McGahee needed to be taken off on a stretcher. Steelers rookie wide receiver Limas Sweed also made a crushing block on Ravens cornerback Corey Ivy late in the second quarter. Sweed was trying to atone for dropped a touchdown pass from Roethlisberger earlier in the quarter.
The story once again for the Steelers was their vaunted defense which caused 4 turnovers and allowed only 198 total yards of offense. The Steelers now move on to a league record seventh Super Bowl apperance against the NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is now the youngest coach to ever take a team to the Super Bowl.