By Teresa Varley
Hines Ward loves making big plays, catching deep bombs for touchdowns and making a catch on the run and turning it into a big gain.
But he knows for the Steelers to be successful and beat the New England Patriots, they are going to have to find a way to sustain long drives and maintain an advantage in time of possession.
"We have to see if we can methodically drive the ball down the field and control the clock," said Ward. "They are going to see if we have the knowledge and patience to take it down 60 or 70 yards for a drive and put up points that way."
It's not the kind of offensive attack that Ward favors, but one he is willing to accept especially when it leads to wins.
"I don't like it, but you have to have a mixture of everything," said Ward. "You are not going to score on every big play. If you are able to convert third downs, then you are going to be able to take shots down the field. If you take shots all of the time then you are putting yourself in long situations that are hard to convert. When you don't convert you aren't getting into a rhythm."
And there is no time like the present to get into a rhythm with a key AFC match-up on Sunday.
"They are going to come out geared up for the game," said Ward. "It's going to be a matter of who comes out and executes the plays better.
"It's going to be a great ball game. it's one of those games as a player you want to participate in. you want to go out there and give it all you've got and see if we can steal a road victory there."
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger knows how important the stretch of games the Steelers are headed into are, especially with as tight as the AFC is right now.
"This is that stretch of the year that you can't afford to split," said Roethlisberger. "You've got to play great football. This is when the veterans need to step up and the rookies need to see what it's about.
"Because the AFC is so tight, so many teams are separated by a game or half a game, or two games, you really can't afford to have that lull right now. That's why this game is so important to us as I'm sure it is to the Patriots as well."