Attention turns to Ravens

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – One of the theories being discussed in the visitor's locker room at Ralph Wilson Stadium had that surviving the Bills the way the Steelers did would help prepare them for this Sunday night's showdown in Baltimore.

Linebacker James Farrior wasn't buying it.

"Nothing gets you ready for Baltimore except Baltimore," Farrior insisted following last Sunday's 19-16 escape in overtime. "This game is always different from any other game.

"It's gonna be one of those types of games. No other game can prepare you for this one."

The game against the Bills almost defied description given all the twists and turns and controversial calls (the Steelers were penalized 10 times, including three holding penalties that were accepted against guard Chris Kemoeatu and another roughing the passer flag against linebacker James Harrison).

The game against the Ravens figures to play out in a much more conventional fashion, at least in terms of what's accepted as conventional as it relates to Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

"This will be all-out war come Sunday night," wide receiver Hines Ward predicted. "You don't want to miss this one.

"This is the one you circle."

That's especially true for the Steelers after letting a late lead slip away and falling to the Ravens, 17-14, at Heinz Field, in the first meeting between the teams.

The rematch pits a couple of 8-3 teams against one another in a late-season battle for AFC North supremacy.

The Steelers appeared to be breezing their way toward their 8-3 half of that equation before letting a 13-0 second-half lead slip away.

They wound up requiring 12:36 of overtime before they were finally able to put the Bills away.

"We feel good because we got out of here with a win," Ward said. "We're starting to make strides in the right direction.

"We're not playing good football, our best football, but what we had to overcome and go through (against the Bills), we can learn from it. I like the direction this team's headed, especially in the month of December."

Safety Ryan Clark took the Buffalo game for what it was worth a much-needed "W" heading into Baltimore.

"A game like this, winning it is what you have to do to make the playoffs," he said. "It's not always going to be pretty. We're not going to dominate every team.

"But in order to get to the playoffs, in order to stack enough wins to get in the tournament, you have to come out on top in this one."

Farrior was still chewing on how the last one against Baltimore had gotten away in the wake of the victory over Buffalo.

"We gave up a touchdown at the end, man," he said about the 18-yard touchdown pass Joe Flacco threw to T.J. Houshmandzadeh with 32 seconds left in that game. "We're definitely disappointed in that."

Sunday's rematch offers a chance to make amends, as well as assume control of the race for first place in the division.

"We'll be ready," Farrior said. "We'll definitely be ready. And we know they're gonna be ready.

"We'll see what happens."

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