Winning in Pittsburgh in January hardly seemed too much to ask.
Allowed to hit the reset button in the playoffs, Joe Flacco and the NFL's postseason road warriors are heading to New England with their swagger fully intact.
Once was more than enough.
Flacco hit Torrey Smith for an 11-yard score in the third quarter and found Crockett Gillmore with a 21-yard pass in the fourth one play after Terrell Suggs picked off Ben Roethlisberger. The Ravens won a playoff game in Pittsburgh for the first time in franchise history, avenging postseason losses in 2008 and 2010 by quieting the NFL's second-ranked offense.
"I didn't play well enough," Roethlisberger said. "I didn't play well enough to win and guys look at me as the leader and the quarterback to make plays and do what it takes to win the football game, and I don't believe I did that today."
"The big thing is we have a good team and we didn't hurt ourselves tonight," Flacco said. "We didn't have a lot of possessions early. We made the most of them by getting some kind of points.
"We played a clean football game and kept at it."
Flacco did what he always seems to do when the calendar flips to January. His seven road playoff wins are the most by a quarterback since the 1970 merger. He completed 18 of 29 passes for 259 yards and the two scores. The Ravens gained a measure of revenge after the archrival Steelers knocked them out of the postseason in 2008 and 2010 at Heinz Field.
Yet Flacco has come of age in the interim. And while Pittsburgh's bounce-back season included its first AFC North title in four years, the Steelers' revamped roster could do little when it mattered.
Pittsburgh fell to 9-1 when facing a team for the third time in the same season, and it was not close. Baltimore's 13-point victory was the fourth-biggest win by a road team in Steelers postseason history.
Flacco escaped pressure from James Harrison to find Smith in the back of the end zone to make it 20-9 in the third quarter. Pittsburgh drew within 20-15 on a 6-yard pass from Roethlisberger to Martavis Bryant with 11:01 to go. But there would be no 2.0-version of the Steelers' rally from 14 points down to Baltimore in the divisional round four years ago.
Justin Tucker drilled a 52-yard field goal to push the lead to 23-15 and Suggs made a juggling interception from his knees on Pittsburgh's ensuing possession. The Ravens did not hesitate to put the Steelers away. Flacco rolled right and flipped to Gillmore. The tight end outraced two defenders to the end zone.
In the end it was Ravens coach John Harbaugh enjoying a rare celebratory moment in a place that has long been a stumbling block. No more. With his brother Jim -- the newly minted head coach at Michigan -- watching in a Wolverines winter jacket, the elder sibling sprinted off the turf and on to the divisional round for the sixth time since 2008.
NOTES: Roethlisberger surpassed Terry Bradshaw for most playoff completions in franchise history (279). ... Ravens are 10-5 on road in postseason. ... Brown had nine receptions for 117 yards, while Baltimore's Steve Smith had five for 101. ... All-Pro LB Elvis Dumervil had two sacks for the Ravens. ... Pittsburgh had eight penalties for 114 yards.
Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press