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AFC Championship Game -- Live

January 18, 2009 - Buck Frank

Halftime report:

What an eventful and looonnnng first half -- one hour, 50 minutes.

The Steelers lead, 13-7, but shouldn't feel comfortable. They grabbed a 13-0 advantage at the beginning of the second quarter on a 65-yard TD pass to Santonio Holmes on somewhat of a broken play.

However, a Chris Kemoeatu 15-yard penalty (didn't he read John Mehno's column today?), a Jim Leonhard 45-yard punt return and a questionable interference call on Bryant McFadden helped the Ravens cut the deficit to six points.

Hines Ward's return to the game is doubtful, which has put rookie Limas Sweed in the spotlight. He dropped a perfectly thrown ball that would have been a 50-yard score, then leveled the Ravens' Corey Ivy on a Heath Miller pass play.

The Steelers wasted a great opportunity to get three points after a questionable roughing the kicker penalty against the Ravens. They ran out of time at the end of the half and missed a great chance to go up 16-7.

Ravens will get the second-half kickoff. Could this game end up 17-13 Ravens just like that Chargers upset in 1994? We'll see.

First-quarter report:

The Steelers lead, 6-0, although they had what appeared to be a touchdown overturned by a review. The Steelers are controlling the ball, keeping that already tired Ravens defense on the field.

Hines Ward suffered a knee injury but is back in the game. Byron Leftwich was warming up on the sideline late in the quarter, but Big Ben, who has been hit hard several times, is back on the field.

The Steelers defense held the Ravens without a first down. The offense has been moving the ball OK, except for a Willie Parker fumble.

15 minutes before kickoff:

Here my pregame stat of the day: Santonio Holmes has as many touchdowns against the Ravens (5) in his last four games as Hines Ward has in his last 18 games against them.

Still no snow here. The field looks frozen but in good shape.

Cardinals just punched their ticket to the Super Bowl. If the Steelers win, get ready for the Whisenhunt/Grimm vs. Tomlin debate to re-ignite.

Imagine what Bill Cowher and Brian Billick are thinking today.

Bill Carollo is the referee for today's game.


One hour before kickoff:

Big news just in -- Samari Rolle will not play for the Ravens, but Terrell Suggs will. Rolle's absence puts Frank "the Spitter' Walker into the starting lineup. Expect the Steelers to try and throw his way a lot today.

Here's someone you may want to keep an eye on today: Ravens RB Ray Rice. He only had one carry the first time these two teams met and didn't play the last meeting. If Le'Ron McClain struggles, the Ravens could give Rice extra carries.

Hey, the Eagles are back in it, down five to begin the fourth quarter. The game is on the scoreboard here, so everyone who entered the stadium early is standing around watching the game.

Two hours before kickoff:

Little or no snow in the air right now. Pittsburgh received snow through the night but not much since I arrived around 2:30 p.m.

The field has been covered except for the bench areas. It should be in as good of shape as you would expect.

Forecast is calling for a light snow through the night but not much accumulation. It will be cold, though, as expected.

How about those Cardinals?

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