The Pittsburgh Steelers stood around as the Baltimore Ravens scored an inexplicable first-half touchdown. Then it was the error-prone Ravens who watched helplessly as the team they love to beat most came back to beat them when it mattered most.
Ben Roethlisberger hit rookie Antonio Brown on a 58-yard pass play on third-and-19, and Rashard Mendenhall scored from the 2 with 1:33 remaining to give the Steelers a 31-24 comeback victory over the Ravens in an AFC divisional playoff game Saturday.
The Steelers, 9-0 against division teams in the playoffs, advance to their fifth AFC championship game in 10 seasons next Sunday - at New England if the Patriots beat the Jets on Sunday, in Pittsburgh if the Jets win. They will be play to reach the Super Bowl for third time in six seasons.
"I saw the young fella just take off, so I'm just going to throw it up for you," Roethlisberger said of his throw to Brown, who wasn't even activated regularly until midseason.
The Steelers (13-4) were trailing 21-7 at halftime after turnovers created two Ravens touchdowns. But they came back with the help of three Baltimore turnovers in the third quarter. It was so bad, the Ravens' minus-4 yards in offense wasn't the worst of it.
Baltimore was outgained 263-126 as Joe Flacco was 16 of 30 for 125 yards as the Ravens became the eighth team in NFL playoff history to fail to gain at least 100 yards in the first three quarters. All eight teams lost.
The Ravens' last chance to beat the Steelers - they haven't in three postseason tries - ended when T.J. Houshmandzadeh dropped Flacco's fourth-down pass at the Steelers' 38 with 1:03 remaining.
Failing to protect the ball cost the Ravens - even after they scored two touchdowns in less than 30 seconds in the first half. Defensive end Cory Redding returned a Roethlisberger fumble for a touchdown that both teams thought was an incompletion, but that wasn't nearly enough on a day when the Ravens offense did so little.
"What better way to put the Ravens out of the tournament," Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward said. "They keep asking for us and we keep putting them out of the tournament. They're going to be ticked about this for a long time."
With Baltimore up 21-7, Ryan Clark forced a rare fumble by Ray Rice on a screen pass, and LaMarr Woodley recovered at the 23. The play re-energized the crowd of 64,879 that had grown silent as Baltimore opened its two-TD lead.