The Steelers, barely

The Baltimore Sun

The difference between the Steelers and the Ravens isn't wide enough to slide a Ritz cracker through.

On its edge.

Both meetings took almost forever to decide, one going 59:17 before a disputed winning touchdown, the only touchdown, and the other couldn't be settled in the customary 60 minutes, requiring more than six minutes of bonus mayhem.

That the Steelers won both times indicates, depending on your perspective, either something or nothing.

It would appear therefore, that this AFC championship game will turn on little things, very little things, wicked little things.

The Steelers, for example, should count on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco being better than he was Dec. 14. But then, how could he be worse? He completed 11 of 28 passes that day in Baltimore, threw two to the Steelers, from whom he milked only 115 air yards for a 22.2 quarterback rating that looked suspiciously like a rookie facing a Dick LeBeau-coached defense.

It would be a big thing if Flacco inverted that performance Sunday, but I'm not looking for any big things.

The Steelers, it says here, are a little better on defense across the board, a little healthier, a little more comfortable with the formerly frightful prospect of a home title game, and by all those measures, just a little more like a Super Bowl team.

Steelers 23, Ravens 17.

Gene Collier is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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