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What they're saying about the Ravens' playoff win over the Steelers

On Saturday night, for the first time ever, the Ravens defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in a playoff game.

Before fans, pundits, coaches and players turn their attention to the team's divisional-round matchup (against the favored-by-more-than-a-touchdown New England Patriots), take a breath to reflect on Saturday night's Wild Card win.

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Here's what sports writers around the country are saying the Ravens' victory:

There have been more talented teams in [John] Harbaugh's seven seasons. But, after watching the Ravens stomp on the AFC North champions, it's clear that there hasn't been one mentally tougher.

The Ravens spent much of the first half re-establishing an advantage that has been evident around here for years now, namely that they still have a ferocious pass rush while their Western Pennsylvania rivals do not.

Afterward, Ravens Coach John Harbaugh called [Joe] Flacco, who completed 18 of 29 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns, "the best quarterback in football," a statement that certainly has its merits come playoff time. No quarterback — not Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady, not Peyton Manning or Drew Brees — has won more postseason games since 2008, Flacco's rookie season, than Flacco (10).

Don't look now, AFC, but Baltimore is at it again. The sixth-seeded Ravens (11-6) just announced their presence will once again be felt in the postseason, roughing up the AFC North champion Steelers, 30-17, in a game they controlled almost throughout.

The Baltimore defense did its part, sacking Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times and intercepting him twice. Roethlisberger completed 31 of 45 passes for 334 yards. But the third-seeded Steelers managed only three field goals until Roethlisberger's fourth-quarter touchdown pass to wide receiver Martavis Bryant.

Torrey Smith caught the touchdown that gave the Ravens a commanding 20-9 lead late in the third quarter, but it was Steve who keyed that scoring drive by going up between two defenders to haul in a 40-yard reception. It was a vintage play in a vintage game for the 35-year-old Smith, who caught five passes for 101 yards and provided his trademark emotion down the stretch.

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More than any NFL franchise, the Ravens have stolen from the Steelers' blueprint for success. And right now, anyway, they are better in the critical areas of defense, toughness and knowing how to win the important games.

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