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The Ravens proved they were the tougher team Saturday

The Ravens proved they were the tougher team Saturday
Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs tackles Steelers running back Dri Archer during the first quarter. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

The Ravens came into this city known for its toughness, and took out the Steelers on Saturday night.

It wasn't pretty from an artistic standpoint, but football isn't always pretty. Football is dirty and grimy, and when the Steelers play the Ravens the tougher team usually wins.

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The Ravens were tougher Saturday night.

They dominated Pittsburgh on both lines of scrimmage and handed the Steelers one of their worst playoff losses in team history. The Ravens pulled an upset in a wild-card game that just about everybody picked them to lose, and they did it because they were tougher, were stronger and had a sense of urgency.

The Steelers were supposed to have the explosive offense. They had Ben Roethlisberger.

They had the No. 2 offense in the NFL and top receiver Antonio Brown.

With the Ravens not playing well during the past month, a Baltimore loss seemed a formality.

But this was a different Ravens team against the Steelers. The Ravens played hard early.

They had a running game that complemented the passing game. They attacked instead of being attacked on offense, and they made life uncomfortable for Roethlisberger.

The tougher team won.

If you weren't feeling good about the Ravens before Saturday night, you feel better now. An offensive line that was missing two starting tackles pushed around the Steelers, paced by left guard Kelechi Osemele and right tackle Marshal Yanda.

Running back Justin Forsett, who had struggled in previous weeks, showed freshness in his legs again and ran hard.

But if the Ravens were going to beat Pittsburgh, they needed strong efforts from outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. They got that, too.

Those two had feasted and run up sack totals against inferior teams, but they dominated Steelers tackles Kelvin Beachum and Marcus Gilbert, who had played well during the past month.

The Ravens came here in attack mode.

They gambled in fourth-down situations, and they were unrelenting in attacking Pittsburgh. Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak kept dialing up long passes to speedy wide receiver Torrey Smith, and Pittsburgh had no defensive back who could run with him.

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Even when Joe Flacco underthrew him once in the second half, Smith came back to tackle the defensive back hard to break up a possible interception. That's not the Smith we're accustomed to seeing. He was a tough guy.

Steve Smith was just as tough, just going up and taking the ball away from the Steelers when he was contested.

Pittsburgh was without star running back Le'Veon Bell, and Steelers fans might use that as an excuse.

It has some merit because he was a major part of the offense, having gained 1,361 yards on 290 carries. But Bell wouldn't have been the answer Saturday night.

Ravens defensive linemen Haloti Ngata and ends Chris Canty and Pernell McPhee were getting too much penetration. There were no holes for the Steelers to run through.

The Ravens came into this game unchained and played with great energy. They were daring and fearless, and played to win instead of playing not to lose.

They were a different team than the one we have seen in the past month. That team was lethargic and tentative. On Saturday, the Ravens were relentless.

They came into Pittsburgh and were tougher than the Steelers, and that doesn't happen very often.

It hasn't happened a lot for the Ravens this season.

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