Steelers Defeat Ravens, Advance to AFC Championship Game Thanks to Bevy of Outstanding Individual Efforts

Make no mistake about it: the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-24 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday evening was a complete, team effort. Without the collective efforts of eacn and every 53 men that suited up for Pittsburgh's Divisional Round tilt against the rival Ravens, the Steelers would not be advancing to the AFC Championship game next Sunday against the New York Jets at Heinz Field. I will always remember this game fondly, and how it symbolized the war of attrition the Steelers faced throughout the 2010 NFL season. But with the game fresh in my mind, let's take time to recognize some of the incredible individual efforts that made the win possible.

* James Harrison continues to be my favorite defensive player for the Steelers. All No. 92 did on Saturday was register three sacks of Joe Flacco. Harrison's three sacks were a quiet three, if there is such a thing in the playoffs. But if you re-watch his effort all night long, you'll come away utterly impressed by the relentless motor and desire that he played with for 60 minutes.

* Ryan Clark delivers his best game as a Pittsburgh Steeler, forcing a fumble of Ray Rice early in the second half, then picking off Joe Flacco two possessions later to squarely give the Steelers the momentum for the final quarter and a half. Great play on the ball by Clark on his interception of Flacco.

* Evander 'Ziggy' Hood plays his best game of his young career on the biggest of stages. The '09 first-round draft pick had one sack of Flacco, and a number of other pressures. More on Hood this week and offseason, but shame on anybody who wrote him off as a 'bust'. The kid has what I believe is the right skill set to be an extremely valuable piece to Dick LeBeau's defense.

* Ben Roethlisberger extended his consecutive pass attempts without an interception streak to 190 with his 32 attempts on Saturday. If Roethlisberger can protect the football next weekend against the Jets, the Steelers will have a great opportunity at advancing on the Super Bowl for the third time in six years.

* LaMarr Woodley had his playoff streak of recording at least two sacks in every game snapped, but he still showed up in the stat sheet with 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery, and 3 tackles.

* Lawrence Timmons was everywhere on Saturday evening, chasing down Baltimore Ravens all over the field. He finished with 9 tackles and made a number of nice plays defending in the passing game.

* Emmanuel Sanders (4 receptions, 54 yards) and Antonio Brown (3 receptions, 75 yards) combine for a huge day. Who says rookies can't be trusted to deliver in big games? More on these two scrappy, confident competitors this week as well.

* Ike 'Swaggin' Taylor most certainly deserves a shout-out for his fine work on the perimeter. Taylor had multiple passes defended and really didn't allow much of anything to materialize in front of or around him all evening. Taylor continues to be the best cornerback to never have been named to the Pro Bowl.

This is by no means in all-inclusive list of guys who played well for the Steelers. I could go on and on about the contributions and efforts of every last guy who suited up for the Steelers. And I will today and this week, as Saturday's game is one I won't soon forget or be done thinking about.

Go Steelers!

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