Ravens-Steelers for all the marbles…I love it.

January 11, 2009 | Drew Forrester

Now, the real fun begins.

Baltimore vs. San Diego would have been boring.  What’s to dislike about the Chargers?  They play in maybe the best city in America, they have cool uniforms and they do little, if any, trash talking or taunting.  We would have all fallen asleep by Wednesday had the Chargers won today in Pittsburgh.

No, this is the way we want it.

And, we got it.

Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh, next Sunday, for the right to go to the Super Bowl.

I’m calling it – “Third time’s the Charm” — because the Ravens CAN’T lose to the Steelers three times in one season.  They just can’t.

As glorious as it would be for our purple pals to go to Heinz Field and WIN next Sunday, it would be doubly painful if they lose.  It would, in my mind, anyway, be a tougher loss to swallow than January 13, 2007 when the Colts came in to town and left with a 15-6 win.

But, we’re there.  And no one else besides Pittsburgh is left for us to play.

It’s one game for all the marbles.

Maybe this is the reward we get as sports fans for having to put up with our dilapidated baseball franchise for the last few years.  Somewhere, the God of Sport said: “Give those poor folks in Baltimore something to cheer about…send their football team to the AFC title game against all the odds.”

It’s actually a pretty fair swap, I think.

And what a week it’s going to be, as we reflect on a terrific win in Tennessee and look ahead to how the Ravens can beat the Steelers.

They haven’t done it yet this year.  But, as the great S.E. Hinton once wrote:  “That was then, This is now.”

And that’s precisely what I wrote back on December 14 after Baltimore dropped a 13-9 decision to the Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium.  

“If the Ravens meet up with the Steelers in late January at Heinz Field in the AFC Championship and come out on top, who’s going to care that we went 1-2 against them in 2008 (’09 playoffs)?”

No one will care.

Because the Ravens will have won the game that mattered most.

It’s going to be thrill of a lifetime if the Ravens win.  And it will hurt deeply if they lose.

Too late to turn back now.

We’re going to Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship Game.

I wrote it last Sunday when they beat the Dolphins and I’m writing it again today.  You’d be well served to get your Tampa airfare and hotel arranged right now before the cost gets too out of hand. 

I have a weird feeling it’s going to be deja-vu all over again.

In Tampa, that is.

But, not in Pittsburgh.