The Steelers 2011 season starts off with a bang, opening against the Baltimore Ravens on the road and that means on thing come Sunday - game on.
"We've got to be ready to play," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "I am sure they are going to be ready. I know we'll be ready. We have a couple more days to prepare and get ready. We have no choice this week but to be ready.
"It's a divisional game, any time we play a divisional opponent it means a little more for all of us. It's the first game of the year, it doesn't matter who we are playing, we are going to get up and get excited for it. You get a divisional opponent right from the get go. Both teams are in the same boat. It's the first game for both teams. It's a physical game. It you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. We consider them one of the best."
The Steelers haven't opened the season against the Ravens since 2003 when they won 34-15 at Heinz Field. The last time they opened the season in Baltimore was in 1998 when the Steelers won 20-13.
"You get these two teams together, it doesn't matter. It's going to be fireworks," said linebacker Larry Foote. "When these two teams match up, records are thrown out the window.
"It's personal. People on the outside don't know it, but on the inside we want to beat them whatever we are doing."
Ike Taylor said nothing could keep him from playing in this game, and is ready and willing to play whenever he is told.
"It doesn't matter,' said Taylor. "Tell me where to go, give me a time, pick a place and I will be there."
Steelers-Ravens games have traditionally been defensive battles and Roethlisberger expects the same this year facing the likes of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata and company.
"This game is all about the defense and how good they are and who doesn't turn the ball over on offense," said Roethlisberger. "I think that is the key to this game for us. They are a great defense. We know those guys. We have played against them a lot. They do have a couple of changes, new faces in there.
"I know what we are going to get. I am sure we are going see a couple of wrinkles this year, especially being the first game. We don't have any film to watch other than the preseason stuff. Teams hold stuff back in the preseason because they don't want to give anything away. We just have to go at it, be ready, be prepared and be ready to make adjustments on the sideline."
At the same time, though, Roethlisberger would love to make the game more of an offensive battle.
"I think you get caught up in being too conservative and not trying to turn the ball over," said Roethlisberger. "I have said it already, don't turn the ball over and let our defense win the game. I think at some point you have to flip that around and try to go score points on offense. We'll see as we get closer what approach we are going to take."
Being the first game Roethlisberger isn't sure what kind of wrinkles offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is going to throw into the mix, but nothing will surprise him.
"BA will try anything. Who knows what's going to happen," said Roethlisberger. "We still have a couple of days to game plan to really get ready. That's probably a better question later in the week as we get closer, but I don't see us holding anything back."
Cornerback Bryant McFadden was sidelined for the preseason with a hamstring injury, but is one of the players Coach Mike Tomlin said should return to the field this week against the Ravens.
"It's tough," said McFadden of the injury. "It's my first time ever pulling it. I knew I wasn't ready. I would try to practice one day and the next day I was sore, I could feel it trying to walk around. If you feel it walking around it feels worse when you try to run.
"The last few days I have been able to practice and not feel that soreness like I was feeling a few weeks ago."
Taylor also is expected back on the field and said being in game shape won't be an issue as he has missed very little practice time due to his broken thumb.