By Teresa Varley
If there is one thing Steelers fans have learned this season it's don't leave the game early because with this team it's not over until the final gun sounds.
The latest fantastic finish for the black and gold came in Baltimore, when a late touchdown reception by Santonio Holmes secured not just a win, but the AFC North title and a first-round playoff bye.
"We're all a product of our experiences, and we've got a lot to call on," said head coach Mike Tomlin. "The guys believe. They believe in themselves and they believe in each other. They believe that games are 60-plus minutes, and they are prepared to play to the end."
It was a classic defensive battle for more than three quarters of play, with both teams only allowing field goals until the Steelers scored late.
"When we came in here to play Baltimore, we knew it was going to be a tough game," said linebacker James Farrior. "We just hung in there for 60 minutes and gave our offense a chance to win at the end. On defense, we knew we had to limit their opportunities and we did."
The Steelers got the ball on their own eight-yard line with just 3:36 remaining on the clock and facing a stingy Ravens defense that didn't allow them much all day. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger orchestrated a picture-perfect drive, with Hines Ward and Nate Washington coming up with huge receptions.
With just 50 ticks remaining on the clock and facing third-and-goal from the Ravens four-yard line, Roethlisberger scrambled in the pocket until he found Holmes open in the end zone for the touchdown and a 13-9 win.
"We've been through so many situations this year, having to come from behind or playing with a lead," said Ward. "The media already said we had the hardest schedule, and it's just great for us to battle and win our division. We clinched a first-round bye. We have another big game. We would love to have that number one spot, and try to get the easiest path there. But in the AFC, I don't think there is any easy way. Baltimore has a great team, and we might even see them again. But all in all, it's all about the Steelers right now, and we're AFC North champions."
A week earlier the offense scored late against the Cowboys, and then Deshea Townsend had an interception return for a touchdown to give the Steelers the win.
"That's what we've been doing all year," said nose tackle Casey Hampton. "That's the type of game we play. I don't think there's a team in the league that is more battle tested than us, playing closer games than us throughout the season. So, I think that will definitely help us toward the end of the year and into the playoffs."