In this day and age where we live in the now and tend to see then next-best thing right around the corner of every channel we surf, the hype leading up to Sunday Nights AFC North battle between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens seemed almost too much.  How could this game live up to the billing? 
Could these two teams possibly deliver on the promise of another classic matchup that would equal its buildup?

You bet it did.

And then some.

What unfolded last night at M&T Bank Stadium in crab land had to be the hardest hitting one in the series to date, numbering 28 after last night and giving the Steelers a 17-11 edge.

The win also put the Steelers in sole possession of 1st place of the division and because they have a better division record, gives them the tie breaker at the moment over Baltimore if the two teams end up tied with the same record at the end of the regular season.

Some thoughts on last night, starting with Roethlisberger.  He never ceases to amaze me.  With a broken foot, he takes a shot from Ravens nose tackle Haloti Ngata and has his schnoz busted open.  Now I know football is a contact sport, but shouldn’t there have been a flag on that play for a blow to the head?  The nose is attached to the head right?

How about that play Ben made when Ravens LB Terrell Suggs was drapped all over him on 1st & goal, trying to strip Ben of the football.  Roethlisberger shook the hard charging Suggs away, turned his body, moved out of the pocket and chucked the ball towards the sideline, as to not get a flag for intentional grounding. 

That’s known as football smarts.

Yes, Ben was his usual super self, but there were others that were participants in the Poe like story.  The most notable being Troy Polamalu. 

The man of Troy came up with what had to be the game changing moment late in the 4th quarter when his team needed just that as he stripped the football out of Baltimore QB Joe Flacco’s throwing hand, allowing Lamar Woodley to recover it and return the fumble to the Ravens 9. 

Normally Baltimore wouldn’t fret as their defense has not allowed a touchdown all season when the offense turns the ball over, numbering 16 in all. 

All good things must come to and end however and it did three plays later when Roethlisberger found Isaac Redman open. The 3rd down specialist broke several tackles on his way to the end zone and gave the Steelers its 1st lead of the game. 

The defense came on and did just enough to keep the Ravens out of the end zone and field goal range, forcing a turnover on downs at their 31. 

Now to the Heath Miller incident in the 3rd quarter.  Is it me, or was I watching the same game as the Zebra’s being paid to officiate this contest?

I was sitting in my game room in Pittsburgh watching it on my big screen and I could hear the helmet-to-helmet hit placed on Miller by Ravens LB Jameel McClain.  It was a clear blow to the head by McClain and should have drawn a flag but for some strange reason, the officials didn’t see it.

You heard me conspiracy theorists. With all the talk about over sensitive officials and how the league has told them to err on the side of caution and throw a flag if it’s even close, they chose not to do so on that play.


Somebody should throw a flag on this crew for missing such an obvious call.

Al Michaels & Chris Collinsworth were calling the game on NBC and were both livid, with Collinsworth really going off about it saying a hit like that is exactly what the league is trying to prevent.  Later in the broadcast, an NFL official told the broadcasters that a flag should have been throw.

Ya think so?

Despite all of that.  Despite the injuries, the penalties, the hostile environment, the officials looking the other way and trailing for 57+ minutes, the Steelers willed themselves to victory and at the moment, the 2nd seed in the upcoming NFL Tournament. 

With four weeks left to play and just one game remaining against an opponent with a winning record, (NY Jets) things are looking good for the guys in Black-N-Gold.  Let’s strap in for a wild ride to the finish line.

A two-time Punt, Pass & Kick Champion, John Phillips is the author of this article.  He can also be heard doing sports updates and hosting talk shows on 93.7 The Fan, mostly on weekends.  Join him next Sunday night at midnight to talk about the Steelers-Bengals tilt. 

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