1/11/2011
Road not always daunting during NFL's postseason
By F. Dale Lolley, Staff writer

PITTSBURGH - If the Steelers needed a clue as to how things can go awry in the postseason, they need to look no further than last weekend's games.

Three road teams came away with victories in the four games. The only victory by a home team came from Seattle, which entered its game against defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans as a 10-point underdog.

Despite opening as 3-point favorites over Baltimore in this Saturday's AFC Divisional playoff game, the Steelers know that anything can happen, particularly against the Ravens.

Though Pittsburgh has won five of the past seven meetings between the teams, the Ravens won at Heinz Field this season, 17-14, in Week 4 when Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was serving the final game of his four-game suspension.

That three-point margin is nothing new in this series. It has been the winning margin in each of the last four games, which have been spilt, 2-2.

There is one thing of which the Steelers are certain, despite Baltimore's win in Pittsburgh earlier this season, they're much happier playing the Ravens at Heinz Field rather than on the road.

"If given the opportunity, I would play at Heinz Field in front of Steeler Nation, no question," said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

While the Steelers are 12-5 against Baltimore in Pittsburgh, they are just 5-3 in playoff games at Heinz Field, matching their record at home this season. They were 7-1 in road games.

Tomlin isn't reading too much into that or the 3-1 record compiled by road teams in the opening round of the playoffs.

"I wouldn't read too much into it," Tomlin said. "Those road teams that won were very good teams. I think everyone understands that and I don't think anyone's particularly shocked by those things."

Despite the history and vitriol between the two teams, the Steelers see the Ravens as just another team standing in their way to their ultimate goal.

"I stress to all the young guys, you don't know how blessed you are to be in this position," said wide receiver Hines Ward. "This doesn't come along all the time.

"Every year, the team is different. You've got young guys, guys getting older like myself. You've got to seize the moment. That's what we've got to do this week, go out and have a great week of practice and get ready for a tough game this week."

[HIGH-LIGHT]Odds and end zones[/HIGH-LIGHT]

Since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, the Steelers are 8-0 in the playoffs against intradivision opponents. ... Tomlin said defensive end Aaron Smith will undergo another scan on his surgically repaired left triceps. ... Strong safety Troy Polamalu (ankle) and cornerback Bryant McFadden (abdomen) will be rested early in the week but are expected to play against the Ravens. ... Linebacker Jason Worilds (knee), who missed the regular-season finale, has been cleared to practice.

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