I don't write a Steelers blog so I can sell ads or get attention.
I do it because I love the Steelers (and because I enjoy doing it).
And so it should come as no surprise when I say that I live for Sundays like tomorrow.
Something tells me you all probably do too.
We've been waiting all week for this; waiting to unleash all of the emotion and nerves that have built up, and to watch the Steelers go after their chance at a second Super Bowl appearance in three years.
All that stands in their way is the New York Jets.
The Jets are a worthy adversary, but one that I'm not going to re-preview for this game because frankly, you shouldn't need me to (though feel free to re-read last month's Jets preview if you're so compelled).
No matter what happened last time, or who's playing and who's not, this is going to be war.
The Jets make the plays they need to make and play tight defense.
And no matter what variables you want to talk about, they still beat us just a month ago.
The only difference between then and now is the stakes (and Troy Polamalu/Heath Miller's availability, of course).
They can have the one that didn't count, but like I said earlier in the week...
Tomorrow, vengeance will be ours.
Especially if Troy Polamalu has anything to say about it...
To that end, here's a little bulletin board material from this week...
I don't know, but if I had to guess, I'd say it'll probably be whatever strategic defense they use against Mark Sanchez in practice.
He only wants to win because he heard there will be unlimited free soft pretzels at the Super Bowl.
Also - ...uh, not if the Steelers have anything to say about it.
Well, for a ring it'd be two games, but who's counting?
Concentrate on Hines all you want, that ain't gonna make you fast enough to catch his partner, Mike Wallace.
Also - yeah, try going after Hines Ward and see how that works out for you.
But wait, there's more...
Well, alrighty, then.
My answer to that would be something like this...
So, here's the deal - this is the AFC Championship game.
There is only one game bigger than this, and that's the one waiting on the other side.
The Steelers have had one hell of a season, and last week, they showed that they will not be denied.
I have no expectations for this game other than that the Steelers will do everything they can to win it.
If they play their game, and play disciplined, I like their chances.
But all we can really do is have faith in Tomlin and the team that they've spent this week preparing an airtight game plan, and that they execute it as close to flawlessly as possible tomorrow night.
It's time to believe.
Now, last week, in lieu of a preview, I looked to you all on Twitter and Facebook, asking you which Raven you hated the most and why. And being a superstitious person (ie, a Steeler fan), I'm sticking with that winning formula again for this week's "preview."
So, here's a little Jets hatred courtesy of you, Steeler Nation...
If I started out my recap of this game with any other statement than "holy shit," I'd be doing what happened at Heinz Field this past weekend a disservice.
You've probably heard it said several thousand different ways already, but this was easily one of the most exciting Steeler games EVER PLAYED - playoffs or otherwise.
The way things went in the first half obviously left a lot to be desired...
But football games aren't typically won in the first 30 minutes, despite the obvious impact what happens in those minutes has on the ultimate outcome.
The Steelers made some early mistakes, and they knew it.
They went into that locker room knowing the Ravens were lucky to be up 21-7.
They went into that locker room with a bad taste in their mouths - one that Gatorade couldn't wash out; one that would only go away if they were able to step back onto the field and turn the tide.
And oh man did they turn the tide...
The second half of that football game was straight up unreal.
In case you didn't realize - after the half, the Ravens only gained 38 total yards in 30 minutes.
They did get a field goal, but only because the Steelers punt coverage unit shit the bed at an inopportune moment. In fact, the "drive" that got them the field goal actually accounted for 24 of the Ravens' 38 second half yards.
At the same time, the Steelers forced THREE turnovers in the 3rd quarter alone - with Ryan Clark himself contributing a forced fumble and a pick...
They sacked Joe Flacco FOUR times - including THREE by James Harrisassin, who I'm not sure I've ever seen so emotional over a football game before...
And basically, the defense continued to redefine the concept of domination, not giving the Ravens an inch of breathing room.
Meanwhile, the offense did its job again - converting all three turnovers into points (17 of them), and putting the final touches on a "comeback" win for the ages with an unreal 58-yard play on 3rd and 19, from their own 38 yard line, with just about two minutes left in the game...
...after which, Rashard Mendenhall busted through the Ravens defense for a second time, forcing the Ravens to play for their lives with 1:30 left.
Whether they meant it to be or not, that was a message - overtime is for suckers; we want to end this one by the time that clock reads 0:00.
And holding the Ravens to a final four and out, that they did.
Honestly, even with the first half having gone the way it did, at no point did I feel like the Steelers were not going to win. Obviously hindsight is 20/20, and I'm not saying my living room wasn't full of profanity and nervous drinking, but we've seen the Steelers do special things over the last few seasons, and as long as Big Ben is on the field, nothing is over until it's over.
But while anytime you can beat the Ravens in the playoffs, it's a great feeling, the Steelers are already moving on, in anticipation of this Sunday's AFC Championship game against the New York Jets - a team picked by many to return to this game, ever since they lost it last year to the Colts.
And so, just like the Steelers, I'm gonna close off the celebration there, because we'll have plenty more chances to enjoy this one again after the jump. So, let's just get to the "Things That Were Awesome," "Things That Were NOT Awesome," and "Things That Should Be Permanently Struck From The Record."
As always, give them a read (or don't), and give us your version(s) of each in the comments.
Throughout the regular season for the last few years, I have posted a gameday poem for just about every game.
But today, I'm swiping a portion of someone else's, in honor of Big Ben - "Don't Quit," Ben's former Coach Terry Hoeppner's favorite piece of prose.
If this doesn't get you fired up, taser yourself, then read it again.
Success is failure turned inside out; The silver tint of the clouds of doubt; And you never can tell how close you are, It may be near when it seems afar, So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit; It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit