NFL Playoffs: Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Baltimore Ravens 24

Saturday’s NFL action featured two of the most entertaining games in recent memory. These two games reinvigorated my passion for the NFL, forcing me to step down from my pedestal (which looks remarkably similar to a recliner). A moment has arrived in which I must refrain from figuratively slapping readers with a barrage of sarcastic, pseudo-analysis, and approach the games from the perspective of an NFL purist. That moment has now come to an end. Keep reading to learn who head butted who on Saturday.

Spoiler Alert! Ike Taylor. Taylor was the head butting culprit in Saturday’s NFL action. Don’t rush to your DVRs, because it wasn’t all that great. In fact, Zinedine Zidane killed himself just so he could roll over in his grave.

There was also a football game played on Saturday, much to my surprise. In fact, this game ranks second behind last week’s Seattle win in my list of best postseason games of the 2011. With the Ravens leading 21-7, this supposedly competitive game appeared destined to disappoint.

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The Ravens scored their first and third touchdowns through the usual channels. Running back Ray Rice ran in the first touchdown, and Joe Flacco connected with tight end Todd Heap on Baltimore’s third score. Ravens defensive tackle Cory Redding broke the conventional mold when he scooped up and returned a fumble for the Ravens’ second touchdown. The touchdown was set up by Baltimore’s notoriously aggressive pass rush. Terrell “T-Sizzle” Suggs mauled Ben Roethlisberger, causing Big Ben to lob a 10-yard knuckle ball into a crowd of Ravens and Steelers. The referees refrained from blowing their whistles, as is customary on a blatant fumble. The 292-pound Redding astutely scooped up the ball and skipped into the end zone while 21 of the 22 professional football players decided they would do literally anything else. I’ve watched countless NFL games where fans berate the player who picks up an obvious incompletion and runs the other way with it as if he may trick the officials into thinking he’s scored. Cory Redding was “that guy” on Saturday, and for that moment, Redding was the smartest (or least dumb) player on the football field.

The Steelers spent halftime playing videogames and drinking beer before thundering out of the tunnel in a drunken stupor. Luckily for them, coach Mike Tomlin had a realization.

“Hang on, guys,” said Tomlin. “Try this time? Please?” Tomlin’s team collectively grumbled, nodded their heads and composed themselves before returning to the field for the second half. The Steelers played the final two frames with a collective case of amnesia. Their renewed sense of urgency fell in line with the caliber of play the public expects from the division-winning Steelers.

Conversely, the Ravens concentrated their focus on losing the game. The unorthodox strategy did not pay off. A high pass from Joe Flacco sailed over wide receiver TJ Houshmanzadeh’s head in the third quarter while the Ravens still led, 21-14. Houshmanzadeh whipped his head back at his quarterback, throwing his hands in the air with frustration. Houshmanzadeh, a mediocre flash-in-the-pan type of player, was questioning the audacity of Flacco throwing an inaccurate pass in his direction. It should be noted that Houshmanzadeh’s only contribution at this point in the game was receiving Ike Taylor’s head butt.

Let’s fast-forward to the final two minutes of the fourth quarter with the Steelers leading, 31-24. The Ravens have the ball with a chance to tie the game, but they will only have one shot to do so. On fourth down and 18 to go with the season on the line, Flacco finds an open TJ Houshmanzadeh at the first down marker. The ball bypasses Houshmanzadeh’s hands, hits him in the chest and falls to the turf. The Ravens season comes to an end, and Houshmanzadeh bookmarks “jobs” on Craigslist.

Story by Jesse Jacobs, who also writes for The Ballston Journal

FINAL SCORE: Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Baltimore Ravens 24
JESSE’S PREDICTION: Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Baltimore Ravens 13

WEEK ONE: Wild Card Playoffs
Seattle Seahawks 41, New Orleans Saints 36
New York Jets 17, Indianapolis Colts 16
Baltimore Ravens 30, Kansas City Chiefs 7
Green Bay Packers 21, Philadelphia Eagles 16

WEEK TWO: Divisional Playoffs
Divisional Playoff Predictions

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