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Relentless Steelers bounce the Ravens

TOUGH and mean, like the original Steel Curtain.

These Pittsburgh Steelers delivered so many hard hits and their quarterback was steady enough to outplay the kid and the rest of the Baltimore Ravens.

With Troy?Polamalu ending any chance Baltimore had for a comeback with a 40-yard interception return, the Steelers bullied their rivals 23-14 on Sunday to reach their seventh Super Bowl.

"It was a typical, hard-hitting, physical game. It's the way every Baltimore-Pittsburgh game is," said Steelers wide receiver Hines?Ward, who missed most of the game with a knee injury. "Sometimes guys get hit so hard, you don't know if they're going to get up. They say defense wins championships, well, we have the No. 1 defense. And they're the reason why we're really going to the Super Bowl."

Ben?Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh will next play the Arizona Cardinals.

After beating Baltimore for the third time this season, the Steelers set up an intriguing matchup - Mike Tomlin versus the Cardinals' Ken Whisenhunt, who was the offensive coordinator when the Steelers won the Super Bowl three seasons ago. He took the Arizona job after being passed over by Pittsburgh when former coach Bill Cowher retired.

The Steelers harassed Joe?Flacco all game long as he tried to become the first rookie quarterback to take a team to the Super Bowl. Normally unflappable, he looked lost at times and finished 13-for-30 for 141 yards and three costly interceptions.

Instead, Pittsburgh ended its home-field jinx in AFC championship games.

"It's always that way," said Roethlisberger, who took a vicious shot to his shoulder in the first half. "This is always a 12-round slug fest. We always go at it. It's always violent from start to finish. I was ready when I took a knee at the end, you never know when somebody is going to fire off the ball."

Roethlisberger, picked off four times by New England in his rookie-year AFC title game, was a workmanlike 16-of-33 for 255 yards and, most importantly, no interceptions.


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