There's no sugarcoating this. I freely admit that I had very little confidence in the Ravens after the way they closed out the regular season. They blew that lead against the Chargers, needed their hearts restarted in Miami, won ugly against the Jaguars and were trounced by the Texans before surviving Week 17.
So, who really thought they would put together the kind of complete game that has so eluded them during the final weeks of the regular season?
Joe Flacco, once again, quashed the ridiculous debate over his status as a truly elite quarterback. He did everything right and registered his NFL-record seventh postseason road win. Dean Pees had the defense in the right place at the right time all night -- with only one obvious exception.
Does that mean the Ravens are headed to the Super Bowl? Maybe not, but you can bet that the New England Patriots were rooting for the Steelers. They've got to be tired of drawing the road warrior Ravens to Gillette Stadium, since the Ravens have proven more than once that they can win there in the playoffs.
The Pats are the No. 1 seed, so they'll be favored -- as were the Steelers -- but the outcome of next week's game, like this one, will depend a lot on which Ravens team shows up. If the Ravens play like they did at Heinz Field, they've got a very good chance to reach the AFC title game.
Of course, I've been wrong so often lately that I probably owe it to the Ravens to pick the Patriots. No sense messing with a losing formula.