Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco added another notch to their playoff road resume as the Baltimore Ravens went into Heinz Field and came away with a 30-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Saturday's AFC Wild Card clash rung familiar in this longstanding rivalry, with hard-hitting defense and opportunistic play deciding which team survived the slugfest.
The Ravens, who needed help in Week 17 to even reach the postseason, provided most of the punishing blows, as they sacked Ben Roethlisberger five times and forced two critical interceptions in the fourth quarter.
Flacco threw for 259 yards with a pair of touchdown passes, including one to Crockett Gillmore that gave the Ravens a 30-15 lead with under eight minutes remaining.
A holding penalty negated a Steelers touchdown on the ensuing drive, and Roethlisberger was picked off in the end zone to seal the outcome.
Harbaugh and Flacco have teamed together for seven playoff victories on the road, and they will shoot for another next Saturday against the top-seeded Patriots in the Divisional Round.
"That's playoff football. That's Joe Flacco," a jubilant Harbaugh beamed. "He's the best quarterback in football. We'll take him any day of the week, twice on Sunday...or Saturday night, if that be the case."
The Steelers had won four straight home playoff games but were limited on the ground with All-Pro Le'Veon Bell sidelined.
Ben Tate, signed just this week, and rookie Josh Harris combined for 44 yards on 14 carries in place of Bell, who hyperextended his right knee in last week's AFC North-clinching win over the Bengals.
Roethlisberger threw 45 times for 334 yards with a touchdown, but it was his interception off the bands of Tate that essentially did in the Steelers.
"We just got beat tonight. We didn't make enough critical plays," Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said. "I'm disappointed because our intentions were to be world champions, and that's not going to be the case."
After Justin Tucker's 52-yard field goal gave the Ravens a 23-15 lead with 8:47 to play, Roethlisberger tried dumping off a pass to Tate, only to have to ball deflect off his hands. Terrell Suggs was trailing the play and made a terrific interception by trapping the ball between his legs.
Flacco hit Gillmore, a rookie tight end, for a 21-yard touchdown pass on the next play to give the Ravens a two-possession cushion.
A holding penalty on Kelvin Beachum took Dri Archer's 19-yard touchdown catch off the board with under five minutes on the clock, and Roethlisberger was forced out of the game on the next play after being driven into the ground by Courtney Upshaw.
Backup Bruce Gradkowski entered briefly and moved the ball down to Baltimore's 14 with two straight completions, but Roethlisberger returned and threw an ill-advised pass into coverage that Darian Stewart intercepted.
A blocked punt that bounced out of the back of the end zone accounted for Pittsburgh's final two points.
The Steelers moved into Ravens territory all four times they had the ball in the first half but only came away with nine points.
Shaun Suisham's 45-yard field goal served as the only points of the opening quarter, and Baltimore responded with an 8-play, 8-yard drive that began with a helmet-to-helmet penalty on safety Mike Mitchell.
Justin Forsett totaled for 32 yards on four carries on the march, and Bernard Pierce barreled into the end zone from five yards out 2:32 into the second quarter.
One of three first-half sacks of Roethlisberger forced Pittsburgh to settle for a 22-yard field goal late in the half, and both Tucker and Suisham made kicks inside the final three minutes to send Baltimore into the break with a 10-9 lead.
A pair of third-down conversions on the opening drive of the second half led to a Tucker 45-yard field goal, and Steve Smith's 40-yard catch on the first play of Baltimore's next possession set up Flacco's first touchdown pass.
On 3rd-and-7 from the 11, Flacco avoided James Harrison in the backfield, rolled to his left and found Torrey Smith in the back of the end zone for a 20-9 Ravens lead with 4:13 remaining in the third quarter.
Looking for a spark, the Steelers converted a 4th-and-1 at their own 42, though they punted again following Elvis Dumervil's third-down sack
Baltimore had its own 4th-down conversion at midfield on the ensuing drive, but on the next snap, Forsett ran into teammate Owen Daniels and coughed up the ball.
Stephon Tuitt recovered at the opposing 45-yard line, and Roethlisberger found Antonio Brown with a deep bomb down to the half-yard line. Following an false start penalty, Martavis Bryant caught a 6-yard touchdown pass.
Daniels' 23-yard catch-and-run on 3rd-and-13 set up Tucker's 52-yarder.
The Steelers were seventh in the NFL in scoring in the regular season with 27.3 points per game ... The Ravens came in 0-3 in Pittsburgh in the playoffs ... Pittsburgh fell to 7-4 in the postseason at Heinz Field ... Forsett was limited to 36 yards on 16 carries ... Steve Smith led Baltimore with five catches for 101 yards ... Brown totaled 117 yards on nine receptions.