Bad taste lingers: Stephon Tuitt is a soft-spoken guy, but you could definitely hear the irritation in his voice when he talked about the Steelers 30-15 loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 6 of the season.
Dolphins' running back Jay Ajayi made a name for himself that day, rushing for 204 yards and two touchdowns against a proud Steelers' defense.
"I was in that game," said Tuitt. "I am still salty about that game. It's going to be a physical football game because I am not happy about that.
"It's different terms, it's our territory. It's going to be a different game, a very physical game, it will be a Wild Card game for our push for the Super Bowl."
Stopping Ajayi won't be an easy task, though.
"They have a great offensive line," said Tuitt. "They have guys that are willing to hit you. They have a running back who is ready to hit the hole. Going against offensive linemen like that, we are going to have to come with our 'A' game, be physical, stop the gaps and stop a runner like him who likes to run up the field and shut him down."
Tuitt, who missed the last two games because of an ankle injury, said he is feeling good and will be out there Sunday when the Steelers host the Dolphins at Heinz Field.
"I'm playing this week," said Tuitt. "I'm not worried about it. I could jump and touch the ceiling if I wanted to."
Tuitt said the one advantage to him missing the last two games was it gave some of the younger players more snaps, making the defensive line as a whole more prepared heading into the postseason.
"Everyone is getting stronger and stepping up," said Tuitt. "Guys are getting more experience. The last two games I wasn't able to play, more guys got more chances and snaps to play, giving them more confidence. That is the good thing. We grow as individuals, as a team, and we had to step up together and make plays to go on the streak we did."
Growing up: Rookie Demarcus Ayers benefitted from the Steelers sitting some of their starters against the Browns, getting extensive playing time and making it count. Ayers had five receptions for 44 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown reception.
But it was the playing time he got two weeks ago against the Ravens that he said was even more beneficial and if given the opportunity this week, he will bring the same energy to the field he has the last two weeks.
"I don't know what the plan is for me in the playoffs," said Ayers. "I just know if I can bring the same energy I brought to the Ravens game and this last game, I feel like there is a role for me on this team. This game was an opportunity for all of the young guys to play and show what they can do.
"(The Ravens) game, playing in that environment, woke me up. I grew up in the Ravens game. I don't know if I didn't play in the Ravens game if I would do the things I did in (the Browns) game. It sparked my career, blocking guys, bringing energy to the team, and earning some trust. Last week gave me a huge confidence boost."
Ayers said he watches what Antonio Brown does on a daily basis, picking up as much as he can from the veteran receiver in a quest to accomplish the same things.
"I learn from him every day," said Ayers. "Once I learn how to get his work ethic, I think I can do some of the same things he has done in this league."
Playmakers: Sammie Coates was one player who sat against the Browns, giving Ayers more playing time. Coates wasn't surprised to see young guys step up at the position.
"We have playmakers everywhere," said Coates. "If someone can't go, another guy steps up and does the job."
Coates was a guy last year that stepped up when called up in the postseason against Denver in the AFC Divisional Playoffs with Antonio Brown out because of a concussion. This year, though, it's a different story heading into the playoffs as the Steelers have a healthy roster.
"We have a lot of guys healthy, we have a lot of guys who haven't played," said Coates. "This is (Le'Veon) Bell's first playoff game in his career. We have guys who are going to be hungry for this game. It's going to be fun to watch our guys go out there and play at a high level."