Posts Tagged 'NFL Playoffs'

Steelers defeat Chargers; advance to AFC Championship Game

Jan. 11, 2009, 8:30 PM

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The Pittsburgh Steelers took care of the San Diego Chargers today 35-24.

The game was close in the first half but the Steelers began to pull away just before halftime.

In the third quarter, Pittsburgh took over. They limited the Chargers to 17 seconds of possession time, and zero yards on one play (which was an interception). I have never seen a quarter of an NFL game be so lopsided.

The Chargers, who were the hottest team in football, could not recover from their lifeless third quarter and were suffocated by the Steelers dominating defense.

With the win, the number two seeded Steelers advance to the AFC Championship game next Sunday against the sixth seeded Baltimore Ravens.

It will be the third game between the division rivals this season. The Steelers won both of the regular season games by a combined 7 points.

The early vegas lines have the Steelers as 4Β½ point favorites.

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Ravens 27 – Dolphins 9

Jan. 4, 2009, 7:14 PM

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Ed Reed celebrates the Ravens' 27-9 victory over the Dolphins

The Baltimore Ravens marched into Miami on Sunday afternoon and imposed their will on resurgent Dolphin squad in front of 74,240 at Dolphin Stadium, earning a trip to the next round of the NFL playoffs.

From the very start, Baltimore played their game. It did not translate into points immediately, but the defense steadily wore down the Dolphins, forcing five turnovers out of a team that only gave up 13 total in 16 regular season games.

Safety Ed Reed gave the Ravens their first touchdown of the game with a 64 yard interception return late in the first half.

After that score, the boys in purple never looked back.

Rookie quarterback Joe Flacco managed the game well, completing only nine passes the entire game. But his zero turnovers are a number the Ravens will take any day of the week

Le’Ron McClain wore down the Dolphins defense with 19 carries for 75 yards and a score. Eventually Willis McGahee capitalized on the tired Miami defensive unit when he broke a 48 yard run with 4:53 to play in the 4th quarter.

That long run set up a 3rd and goal and a chance for the Ravens to score and put the game away. Flacco did just that with an eight yard quarterback draw to make the score 27-9.

The big story of the game was Baltimore’s ability to force five turnovers out of a team that was known for taking care of the football.

The win means the Ravens have a date with the Tennessee Titans on Saturday, January 10, at 4:30 (EST). On the line will be a trip to the AFC Championship Game.

Wild Card Preview: Ravens at Dolphins

Jan. 5, 2009, 2:11 PM

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Game Info:
Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. (ET)
Site: Dolphin Stadium (75,192)β€’Miami Gardens, FL
TV: CBS
Announcers: Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Phil Simms (color commentary)

Overview: The Ravens and Dolphins both come into Sunday’s game with a lot of confidence. Miami finished their season by winning five in a row, while Baltimore won five of their last six to close out the 2008 season. The last time these teams met was on October 19, when the Ravens won 27-13. Willis McGahee rushed for 105 yards and Terrell Suggs scored his first career NFL touchdown, picking off Chad Pennington and taking it back 44 yards for the score. Although both teams finished the regular season with 11-5 records and Baltimore won the head to head meeting, Miami gets the home game because they won the AFC East and the Ravens took the Wild Card.

Matchups:

RAVENS OFFENSE vs. DOLPHINS DEFENSE: Joe Flacco has been very composed in the last few weeks. Even when he feels pressure, he has shown the ability to roll out and make a play or just get rid of it. In weeks 15 and 16, Flacco saw two of the game’s best pass rushers in James Harrison and DeMarcus Ware. On Sunday he will have to deal with another great one in Joey Porter, who compiled 17Β½ sacks this year. Porter, like Harrison and Ware, uses his strength and speed to generate a ferocious pass rush. Veterans Vonnie Holliday and Jason Ferguson have a combined 23 years of NFL experience and are the big men up front for Miami. They helped the Fins limit opponents to 101 rushing yards per game this year. Ray Rice will be back on the field for Baltimore for the first time since Dec. 7 when he injured his calf. The secondary is where the Ravens need to take advantage of Miami. The Dolphins gave up 28 plays of 25 yards or more during the regular season, so look for Mark Clayton, Todd Heap, and Derrick Mason to all possibly make a few big plays.

DOLPHINS OFFENSE vs. RAVENS DEFENSE: The Ravens did an excellent job of shutting down Miami’s wildcat offense back on Oct. 19. They used their speed and aggressiveness to stop some of Miami’s trickery before it could get started. Baltimore’s defense is one that commits and commits hard. If Chad Pennington is able to get a good play action fake and still have enough time to throw the ball, the Ravens could be vulnerable. The Ravens do so many things defensively to confuse the offense. Putting 340 pound Haloti Ngata into pass coverage will throw off any quarterback. And having four linebackers who can blitz at anytime is a lot for the offensive line to handle. The Ravens showed some holes in their run defense last week against Jacksonville, giving up 119 yards. This is something the Dolphins will try to build upon. Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown combined for 1575 rushing yards this season. They are a talented pair of playmakers.

PREDICTION: The Ravens led the league in takeaways during the regular season with 34. The Dolphins tied for the league lead with only 13 turnovers. Something has to give. If Chad Pennington is efficient and smart like he has been all season, I believe the Dolphins have a really good shot at winning this one. But if the Ravens can get to him early and be disruptive, it will take an enormous ammount of pressure off of Joe Flacco and the offense. I say the Ravens will continue their brand of smash mouth football and walk out of Miami with their first playoff victory since 2002. RAVENS, 21-13


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