Steelers and Ravens know each other well

When it comes to the Steelers and the Ravens, there are no secrets. These are two teams that know each other well, know tendencies, strengths and weakness. Basically, there isn't much they don't know.

"The advantage is you know the players," said safety Ryan Clark. "You might not know what they are going to do, but I know if this guy is fast, this guy is strong or quick."

That is why one of the things being preached to the Steelers players this week is execution. They can watch all the film they want this week of the Ravens, they have pretty much seen it all. But if they don't execute, being familiar with them is meaningless. "It just comes down to who makes the plays," said cornerback William Gay. "The coaches can't tell you anything you don't know about the opponent. It's a matter of who executes the game play the coaches give us.

"We know them, they know us. It doesn't matter who we play we just have to execute the game plan."

The Steelers defeated the Ravens 13-10 on December 5 in Baltimore, while the Ravens were 17-14 winners at Heinz Field on October 3.

"We get the chance to play them for the third time this season, we know their personnel, they know our personnel," said wide receiver Hines Ward. "It just comes down to executing whatever team makes the most plays. They know what type of team we are, we know what type of team they are. It's going to come down to whatever team executes the best. That is how it has been over the years."

One player who the Steelers expect to make plays for the Ravens this time around is tight end Todd Heap. Heap was injured in the opening minutes of the match-up in Baltimore, leaving the game after making just one catch.

"He is a big difference maker," said Clark. "Look at our difference without Heath (Miller). That is the equivalent. Two of the premiere tight ends in the league. It's going to change the game. He did a great job against Kansas City. Kansas City had a hard time containing him. That's something we have to pay attention to."

Heap had 10 receptions for 108 yards in the AFC Wild Card game against the Chiefs, and the Steelers know they will have to shut him down on Saturday.

"He is a big factor for their offense," said Gay. "They look for him. He is a known veteran. He is someone we have to deal with and stop."

Kicker Shaun Suisham was signed by the Steelers prior to the Oakland game and has been a consistent force for the black and gold since then, hitting 14 of 15 field goal attempts.

"He's banged just about every kick we sent him out there to hit," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "But not only that, he has a can-do attitude. He is a pleasant teammate. He has endeared himself to his teammates because of it. He doesn't bat an eye when you ask him to do some special things, whether it's kickoffs and spreading the ball around or lobs; he has just been a pro. He has been a good addition to us. He has done everything we have asked him to do and has done a pretty good job of it."

There isn't a lot of margin for error this week with playing in the AFC Championship game on the line, and that isn't lost on the players.

"It's important we have a small amount of bad plays," said defensive end Nick Eason. "If we lose this game it's time to go home. It's do or die now. There is no revenge or come back. It's a do or die time now."

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was asked about the way the Steelers offense has evolved, yet the games against the Ravens have been low-scoring affairs this year.

"You can talk about the offense all you want, but it's about the two defenses," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "It's two great defenses that do a lot of exotic type blitzes, exotic looks. They are physical. Both groups are very veteran groups. It's about what offense is going to make a mistake or not make it. That's why I think it's always close."

Linebacker James Farrior understands the defensive battle that is going to take place, and knows it's about being the better defense to get the win.

"That is the key to the game, is trying to outperform their defense," said Farrior. "We know they have a great defense, a lot of all-star guys over there. We just try to do our job to out play those guys."

Safety Troy Polamalu (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday, but is expected to go full tilt on Thursday.

Cornerback Bryant McFadden (abdomen) was limited in practice but he too is expected to fully practice on Thursday.

"He is really going according to plan," said Tomlin. "If anything I am erring on the side of caution. He is a veteran player. This is the third time we have played the opponent. We are not going to take any steps backwards between then and Saturday afternoon. I think that's the prudent approach. He has been agreeable with that, but he is chomping at the bit to go because he is a detailed preparation guy. I am comfortable with where he is."

Defensive end Aaron Smith (triceps) was limited in practice as well.

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