An Escape, Yes, But They'll Take It

Mike Prisuta wasn't impressed, but he knows the Steelers will take it.

You'd like to be able to bang the drum and wave the flag and sing the praises of the Steelers' heart, resiliency and competitiveness after one of the most remarkable postseason games in the storied franchise's fabled postseason history.

And from a survive-and-advance standpoint -- the ultimate objective in any and every NFL playoff confrontation -- such reactions are more justified this morning than Timothy Olyphant (if you're an FX fan, you get it).

But the bottom line on Steelers 31, Ravens 24 remains that the result achieved on Saturday evening at Heinz Field was more attributable to Baltimore losing a game than Pittsburgh winning one.

This can't happen again.

This won't happen again.

And if it's true that every championship team needs a little good fortune along the way, consider the Steelers to have cashed in that chip.

That's not what Steeler Nation wants to hear right about now, and it's not my intention to kill everyone's buzz.

But in their heart of hearts, even the Steelers have to realize they got lucky, that without the continued cooperation of and contributions from the Ravens they'd still be wondering what the hell had happened and why.

Perhaps that's why the locker room was relatively subdued after such an emotional outcome.

The first half was collectively the worst half of football the Steelers had played all season.

And the second half doesn't happen if Joe Flacco and Matt Birk don't once again prove incapable of cleanly executing a snap, if Anquan Boldin doesn't drop a touchdown pass, and if the Ravens don't lose their collective defensive minds and rush three guys on third-and-19.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh dropping a first down on the final Baltimore possession was the icing on the Ravens' giveaway cake.

Wipe your shoes with that, tough guy.

As for the Steelers, they can take solace and perhaps even draw some confidence from being able to make enough plays to take full advantage of Baltimore's generosity.

The standouts along those lines included:

* Rashard Mendenhall -- His two had-to-have-'em rushing TDs were his third and fourth this season against a Ravens defense that wound up allowing eight in 18 games.

* James Harrison -- This time it wasn't about penalties, it was about relentlessness. The defensive series after the Steelers had cut it to 21-14, the one that saw Harrison run through Willis McGahee to sack Flacco, team with Lawrence Timmons to hold McGahee to a 2-yard gain and then blast through The Blind Side and get a hit on Flacco on a third-down incompletion that completed a three-and-out was Defensive Player of the Year stuff.

* Thanks to Harrison, Terrell Suggs was only the Co-Defensive Player of the Game.

* Antonio Brown -- Although the 58-yard completion that helped ultimately win the game was something the Steelers more or less drew up in the dirt, their willingness to do so on a play involving Brown speaks to the confidence the players and coaches have in Brown and fellow rookie Emmanuel Sanders. That four- and five-wide stuff is the extra gear the offense was missing most of the season. Now, it's there if they need it.

* Ziggy Hood -- The obsession with Aaron Smith's potential availability continues even though Hood has made Smith's absence a non-factor.

* Shaun Suisham -- Converting one of two against Baltimore was better than an 0-fer. He's also a better tackler than Jeff Reed and he out kickoff-ed the master Billy Cundiff.

* Flozell Adams -- He's had better days blocking. But he was as Spartan as it gets in his attempt to get back into the game after being forced to the sideline and ultimately to the locker room due to symptoms that ran the gauntlet, Adams said, of "whatever the flu provides." Mike Tomlin talked Adams back to the sideline as he tried to re-enter between the third and fourth quarters but the big guy never checked out mentally.

None of them did.

They have that much going for them heading into the AFC Championship Game.

"I came here to win a Super Bowl," Adams said.

Somehow, that's still a possibility.

(Talk about Mike's story here on the message board.)


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