I headed down into the tunnel at Heinz Field preparing to get field level for the bombastic bashing that was soon to commence. As I neared the Steelers locker room, I heard a loud chanting/singing emanating from the visitors locker room. I presumed that the Ravens had some loud, loudspeakers set up outside their locker room. I started down the tunnel that would take me to the Ravens locker room, and lo and behold was surprised that the loud, boisterous singing started to recede. It was the players making their way to the field. Forty-five voices strong, the Ravens ended their marching dirge and hit the field. They meant business, and serious business was about to get kick-started.
* Collateral damage, by definition, is damage that is unintended or incidental to the intended outcome. That would adequately describe Bronco Legursky's second-down foray lining up as a fullback after Antwaan Randle El blistered Ravens CB Fabian Washington on a go route that made it first and goal from the Ravens 1-yard line.
The Bronco gored Max Starks in the backside, but was part of the impetus that pushed the left side of the line over the goal line. Rashard Mendenhall got low and banged, then re-loaded the leg drive to surge, then squirmed his way into the end zone. Well done by Max even after being impaled.
* Willis McGahee's 9-yard TD run was a product of confusion as well as good running. James Farrior got juked, and Lawrence Timmons came up a little short, but there seemed to be some pre-snap kibitzing going on that usually means some people aren't on the same page. Word in another paper is that LB coach Keith Butler's headset malfunctioned. Whatever. It was obvious that somebody didn't get a call.
* Throughout the first half, it became readily apparent that Ravens coordinator Cam Cameron was not going to let the Steelers blitz and fry Joe Flacco. Max protection, along with three-step drops, were making the Flacco unflappable in the first half.
* The third quarter was the quarter in which this game was pretty much decided. McGahee found on a 2nd and 10, from his own 22-yard line, that James Harrison's noggin is sturdier than his own. The Silverback mulched McGahee and caused him to fumble while the "Law Dawg" Timmons gobbled up the ball. There was bedlam on the sidelines as it seemed the Steelers were about to quick strike the Ravens with the first opportunistic punch of the second half.
* Meat Loaf was one of my favorite bands back in the day. He had a song where he crooned "Two outta three ain't bad." I guess McGahee could say the same thing. By my count, Willis McGahee has been knocked out of Heinz Field two of the last three times he's visited the ‘Burgh.
* Speaking of songs, Adam Sandler's video some years ago, "The Loneliest Kicker," came to mind as I watched Jeff Reed on the sidelines after he clanged the 49-yarder off the uprights.
* In the third quarter, Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain tried to runover "Big Juicy," Chris Kemoeatu, on an A-gap blitz. The force was with Chris. He knocked McClain completely on his duff. But the Ravens had a twist stunt on as well and Kemoeatu got caught not re-loading fast enough and there was penetration on the weak side of the rush on a short Batch-to-Wallace 4-yard gain pass.
* Speaking of a great job reloading, in the second half Isaac Redman did a heckuva job in blitz pick-up on a third down. Haruki Nakamura came on the outside and Ray Lewis delayed dog on the inside of Nakamura, again from the weakside where it seems a lot of the Ravens rush seemed to aim. Redman stepped up, banged off Nakamura, and then spying Lewis, fell sideways into Ray and knocked him off his feet. "Bowling for Ravens," a 6-10 split pick-up in the fourth frame. It was a terriffic play that will go unnoticed by most.
* Ike Taylor was beside himself with joy after his third-quarter INT and ran up the sideline waving the ball as if to say, "See, I can catch!" There were big hugs all the way around for Ike as he came back to the bench.
* Doctor Phil might be on Reed's speed dial after the conversation he had with himself upon missing the 45-yarder. I don't blame him. Jeff prides himself on his clutch kicking and has always proven to be the man you want when it comes down to crunch time. Even the best have those days. But, zero points to show for two turnovers was the big difference between a close finish and the Steelers running away with the game.
* Redman also made a catch on the 13-play TD drive that had the Steelers taking the lead at 14-10. Big Juicy decided to police the pile and took a running start while McClain was wrestling the Redzone to the ground. Juicy came in hot and low cleaning the pile and McClain looked like he got a hip-pointer from the helmet of Chris.
* With the crowd screaming at high volume, the unflappable Flacco (I recently watched the Titanic on TV a few days ago and it made me think of the "Unsinkable Molly Brown" while I watched Flacco do his thing, sorry that's how my mind works) calmly dropped back and delivered a perfect 18-yard strike to TJ Houshmandzadeh. Rarely does the air leave a place like Heinz Field as fast as it vanished in the after-seconds of the Ravens TD. While I was standing on the sidelines, surrounded by the throng of media, you could feel the energy level just drop off the charts, and when the final gun sounded there was a great number of Steelers who eschewed the post-game congrats and headed down to the locker room.
* A post-game primal scream in the locker room by Ryan Clark pretty much summed up the somber atmosphere. This was a big one they let get away.