It's no secret how these two teams have gotten to this point of the postseason. Each used a stifling defense and capitalized on its opponent's mistakes to make it this far, just as they did in the regular season.
On Saturday, the Ravens knocked off the No. 1 seeded Tennessee Titans, 13-10, on a 43-yard Matt Stover field goal with 53 seconds remaining in the game. They were out-gained nearly two-to-one in total yards, but Tennessee consistently shot themselves in the foot with penalties and turnovers.
The Titans, after posting the league's best record of the regular season by protecting the football and playing solid defense, couldn't hang onto the football, fumbling five times, losing two of those. Including a Kerry Collins interception, Tennessee turned the ball over three times, each time inside the Ravens 20-yard line, squandering valuable scoring opportunities.
And ultimately it cost them a shot at the AFC championship game and the Super Bowl.
Instead the Ravens will take their place as they face a Steelers defense that held San Diego Chargers playmaker Darren Sproles -- who was filling in for injured star LaDainian Tomlinson -- to just 15 yards on the ground Sunday, and pretty much kept him in check until a 62-yard touchdown reception that came during garbage time with the game well in hand for the Steelers.
A healthy Willie Parker, however, had a huge day for the Steelers with 146 yards and two touchdowns, helping Pittsburgh dominate time of possession. The Steelers had the ball 13 minutes longer than their opponent, and they held it for all but one snap of the third quarter thanks to some ball-control offense and an interception of a tipped Philip Rivers pass that turned the ball right back over to the Steelers following a long touchdown drive.
So now the Steelers will meet up with the Ravens for the third time, with the Super Bowl on the line this time.
The popular line of thinking says it's very difficult to beat an opponent three times in the same season. Combine that with the added motivation of two heartbreaking losses -- one in overtime -- that ultimately cost the Ravens the division championship to these same Steelers, and the Ravens are a team with a lot to prove and a ton of ammunition to use as motivation.
This one should be worth getting your popcorn ready!
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