- The Washington Times - Monday, December 17, 2001

BALTIMORE The Pittsburgh Steelers backed up every derogatory comment they made about the Baltimore Ravens last night at PSINet Stadium.
There was a war of words between the divisional rivals earlier in the week. Steelers receiver Plaxico Burress said the Steelers "physically beat" the Ravens six weeks ago in the Ravens' three-point win. The Ravens took exception to Burress' comments and pointed out that he's the least physical of all the Steelers. Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe even dubbed Burress "Plexiglass."
However, Plexiglass was a man of steel last night and his performance helped the Steelers earn a 26-21 victory and at the same time threw the Ravens into a wild-card mess.
Burress established career highs with eight receptions for 164 yards and one touchdown before a crowd of 69,506 that hoped to see the Ravens inch closer to the AFC Central division title.
With the win, the Steelers (11-2) clinched the division title and have the best record in the conference. The Ravens (8-5) are now tied with the New York Jets for the fifth wild card spot in the AFC.
"We did a lot of talking and we didn't back it up," Sharpe said. "They did a lot of talking and they did back it up."
The Ravens have three games remaining two at home and coach Brian Billick believes the Ravens must win at least two of their final three to earn a playoff berth. The Ravens get the lowly Cincinnati Bengals (4-9) Sunday at PSINet Stadium. Then, the Ravens go to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-6) the following week before concluding their season in a Monday night home game against the Minnesota Vikings (5-8).
Billick's team won't win two of its final three with the shoddy pass defense it displayed last night.
Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart shredded the Ravens secondary for career-high 333 yards and two touchdowns, including a 90-yard strike to wide receiver Bobby Shaw which gave the Steelers a 19-7 lead with 8:53 left.
Shaw's touchdown was the longest touchdown ever scored against the Ravens and tied the longest TD in Steelers history. Stewart's 333 yards was his first 300-yard passing game since 1997 against the Denver Broncos. Stewart is more feared as a runner than as a passer, but last night, he did both. Stewart rushed for 55 yards on 10 carries.
"I can't say enough about him," said Steelers coach Bill Cowher. "He's a confident man right now and he's got guys making plays for him."
Down 12 points late in the game, the Ravens got back into it with 6:36 left on a 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Elvis Grbac to wide receiver Qadry Ismail that made it 19-14.
It was up to the Ravens stout defense to shut down the Steelers offense. It didn't happen.
The Steelers scored two touchdowns in the final eight minutes and iced the game with a 4-yard scoring run by Steelers reserve fullback Dan Kreider with 3:05 left that made the score 26-14.
The Ravens scored a late touchdown a 5-yard touchdown pass from Grbac to wide receiver Brandon Stokely with 1:14 left to make the final score closer than the game really was.
The Steelers dominated time of possession (41:05 to 18:55) and its offensive line pounded the Ravens defense. The Steelers outgained the Ravens 476-207 in total offense. The Steelers rushed for 158 yards against the league's second-best defense against the run.
"They got us pretty good tonight," Billick said. "We know they're going to be there, now it's our job to get there."
The Ravens secondary came in as the NFL's 16th-rated coverage unit, but is bound to drop after last night's performance. Burress consistently burned Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister. Safety Rod Woodson seemed out of place all game.
"I never thought he could pass for over 300 yards," Ravens linebacker Peter Boulware said of Stewart. "Never did I think that would happen. We'll go back to the drawing board and hopefully we'll fix it. Kordell's the type of guy that can scramble and run around."

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