Ravens count on momentum in showdown vs Steelers
Heading into another showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Baltimore Ravens hope momentum is better than rest.
The Ravens and Steelers split two games this season, each winning on the road by three points. Both finished 12-4 and tied atop the AFC North.
But because Pittsburgh had a better division record, it received a No. 2 seed and a first-round bye. Baltimore, in turn, was forced to hit the road as a wild-card team.
''For such a small margin, what a big difference that makes,'' Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday. ''But we kind of understand who we are. We understand our path, our road. We're not intimidated by it at all. We're looking forward to it. We wouldn't have it any other way.''
The Ravens hammered Kansas City 30-7 on Sunday, and therefore will bring a season-high five-game winning streak into Pittsburgh on Saturday.
''There is definitely an advantage to having the time off from a rest perspective, and there's probably an advantage from playing from a being sharp perspective,'' Harbaugh said. ''So we'll try to take advantage of the strengths in our favor, and hope the strengths in their favor are minimized by the way we approach what we do.''
Like it or not, the Ravens will be operating on a short week against a team that will have gone nearly two weeks without a game.
''I'm very confident we can get our guys rested, recovered and ready to go,'' Harbaugh said.
Baltimore beat the Steelers on the road in October, but in the playoffs the Ravens are 0-2 in Pittsburgh, including a 23-14 loss in the AFC title game in January 2009. Given a preference, the Ravens would love to have this game in Baltimore.
But it's off they go to Pittsburgh again, with the knowledge that they're coming off one of their best games of the season. Baltimore dominated the Chiefs after halftime in such a fashion that by game's end about the only fans left in the stands were wearing purple and black.
''It's a lot of fun to come on the road and into places like this and be confident in yourself and be confident in your teammates that you're going to get the job done. That's really how we feel,'' said quarterback Joe Flacco, who was 25 of 34 for 265 yards and two touchdowns.
''We don't have any doubt that we are going to come in here and win the football game. That's how we feel and that's what we showed.''
The offense was so good, Baltimore's esteemed defense was on the field for only 40 plays. So, even though the Ravens were forced to play while the Steelers rested, the defense should be fresh heading into Pittsburgh.
''I think it's a factor. It's better than playing 80 plays,'' Harbaugh said. ''That's the defense getting off the field and the offense staying on the field. It works together. I thought that was probably our best team effort - all three phases - of the year.''
Baltimore held the ball for more than 41 minutes compared to 18:16 for the Chiefs.
''Time of possession is a reflection of moving the chains and getting first downs,'' Harbaugh said. ''It's a very important factor in controlling the game.''
Safety Ed Reed, whose younger brother was reported missing in Louisiana on Friday, returned home on Sunday night and was told to stay as long as he saw fit.
''We've left that up to Ed,'' Harbaugh said. ''I know Ed knows this team inside and out. It's going to depend on the circumstances down there, what he feels he needs to do with his family. But we'll give him a lot of leeway on that.''
Brian Reed apparently jumped into the Mississippi River after being confronted by a deputy sheriff in response to a report of a stolen car.