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What they're saying about the Ravens -- Jan. 16

Here's a look at what other media outlets are saying about the Ravens after their 31-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC divisional playoffs:

• ESPN.com's James Walker believes the main difference between the Ravens and Steelers is the level of play from the quarterback.

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There is not much that separates the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. Both teams have elite defenses, Pro Bowl players, future Hall of Famers and two of the best coaching staffs in the NFL.

But on Pittsburgh's sideline you have quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. And on Baltimore's sideline you have Joe Flacco.

Game, set and match in favor of the Steelers.

• In a separate post on ESPN's AFC North blog, Walker breaks down the Ravens-Steelers game.

What I didn't like: The Ravens took a two-touchdown lead into the second half, but quickly allowed Pittsburgh back into the game with sloppy play. Flacco had another poor playoff outing. He threw for 125 yards, one touchdown and had a key fumble and an interception in the second half. Both teams, in fact, were careless with the football. There were four fumbles and five turnovers overall.

• Peter King of SI.com offers his analysis on why the Steelers are able to win when it counts.

There's a reason why the Steelers have been so good for so long. The system gets the coaches the players, the players get coached, and the players fit into the roles the old Steelers like Jack Lambert and Terry Bradshaw and Mike Webster defined; and before you know it, James Harrison (three sacks against Baltimore), Roethlisberger (two touchdowns, 101.8 rating, seventh straight win over the hated Ravens) and Maurkice Pouncey (a brute force in the middle of the line, though a rookie) take their place, and play big in big games the way their predecessors did.

• SI.com's Kerry Byrne grades both teams on their performances, including this not-so-good mark for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.

The Ravens put the game on the shoulders of Joe Flacco and the young quarterback came out firing -- 12-of-18 for 82 yards and a TD as Baltimore took a 21-7 lead at halftime. But Flacco and the Baltimore offensive fizzled badly in the third quarter, and Flacco's interception was one of the turning points in the game -- he overthrew Todd Heap, and safety Ryan Clark hauled in the errant pass. The turnover led to a short touchdown drive by the Steelers that tied the game at 21-21. Flacco also fumbled an exchange with center Matt Birk at the end of the third quarter (Pittsburgh recovered) and otherwise was utterly ineffective after intermission. Flacco completed 4-of-12 passes for 43 yards and an interception in the second half. Grade: D+

• CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel says the Ravens didn't choke in Saturday's game. He offers another explanation.

You could say the Baltimore Ravens choked. Or I could. I could sit here and write that the Ravens choked on Saturday, when they dissolved in the second half of a 31-24 loss that allowed Pittsburgh to advance to the AFC championship game next week.

But that wouldn't be fair to Pittsburgh. The Ravens were prey, yes, but only because Pittsburgh was the predator. You know that sentence I wrote earlier, that the Ravens "allowed Pittsburgh to advance" next week? Forget that. The Ravens didn't allow a damn thing -- Pittsburgh took it.

Pittsburgh beat the Ravens. Beat them up, beat them down. Beat them physically and mentally.

• FanHouse.com's Dan Graziano discusses Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's momentum-changing pass to wide receiver Antonio Brown in the final minutes.

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The play that came in from the sideline called for the outside receivers to run 15-yard "stop" routes, but Ben Roethlisberger didn't like the math. He knew it was third-and-19, and that 15 yards wouldn't do it. So in the huddle, with 2:07 left in a playoff game that was tied 24-24, the Steelers' quarterback changed the call. Roethlisberger looked at those outside receivers, Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown, and told them to run "go" routes -- as far as they could, as fast as they could.

This was, of course, music to the receivers' ears, and it was Brown who turned it into magic. He got past his man, Lardarius Webb, ran down the right sideline under Roethlisberger's perfect throw and caught it with one hand up against his outside shoulder for a 58-yard gain. That set up Rashard Mendenhall's short touchdown run, which set the final score and sent the Steelers to the AFC championship game with a breathless 31-24 comeback victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

• Kevin Blackistone of FanHouse.com believes Jets-Patriots is a better rivalry than Ravens-Steelers.

But the Steelers-Ravens is not a better rivalry in the NFL than the Patriots versus the Jets no matter the argument from all the hyperbole -- the combined score since 2003 is Steelers 302, Ravens 302 -- in the run up to Saturday's divisional playoff between the Steelers and Ravens in Pittsburgh.

That combined score is a remarkable tally. But in the ultimate measurement over the last few seasons, the Steelers all but own the Ravens, especially with Ben Roethlisberger quarterbacking. The Steelers' boss on offense is undefeated against the Ravens in his last six starts against them.

The Patriots and Jets, however, is almost the opposite. Despite all the Super Bowl rings and firepower and celebrity on the Patriots' side, the rebuilt, upstart Jets somehow held their own against them the past three seasons. The Patriots and Jets, scheduled to meet Sunday in an AFC Divisional playoff, split their season meetings the last three regular campaigns. That included a Jets' win at the Patriots' Gillette Stadium, where both will be Sunday.

[Compiled by Dean Jones Jr.]

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