During a news conference after losing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to shoulder and rib injuries, Tomlin was adamant about projecting strength, saying:"Excuses are the tools of the incompetent."
Harbaugh is known as a grinder, a former Philadelphia Eagles special-teams coordinator who learned the game from his father: former college football coach Jack Harbaugh.
Harbaugh regularly tell jokes and shows the players video clips from the television show "Wipeout," and amusing Pop Warner and high school football highlights gleaned from YouTube.
"John shows funny clips, and he tries dry jokes that only he laughs at," fullback Vonta Leach said. "I appreciate the attempts. He gets an 'A' for effort. We have a tough crowd."
Since the video clips are typically shown during team meetings, offensive guard Bobbie Williams characterized them as ice-breakers.
"Coach Harbaugh tries to get everybody smiling before you go into work mode," tight end Ed Dickson said. "It's pretty fun."
All business, at least publicly, during a critical week, Harbaugh didn't have much to say about Tomlin.
"I haven't really been digesting that, that's not something I've been thinking about," Harbaugh said. "We have a lot of respect for Mike, obviously a lot of respect for their whole staff."
Harbaugh obtained his first head-coaching job in 2008 when Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti tabbed him to take over after Billick went 5-11 in his final season. The Ravens went 11-5 in Harbaugh's first season, losing, 23-13, to the Steelers in the AFC title game.
The Ravens are 0-2 against the Steelers in the playoffs, splitting eight regular-season games against Pittsburgh since Harbaugh took over.
"He's a hard-working, good guy," Tomlin said of Harbaugh. "That's how I've always known him. I've always had a great deal of respect for the body of work that he consistently puts out."
Harbaugh is 5-4 in the postseason overall, making the playoffs in each of his first four seasons to become only the fourth coach in NFL history since the AFL-NFL merger to do so, joining Cowher, John Robinson and Knox.
"John has paid his dues at every level," Billick said. "He's done a phenomenal job."
While neither Harbaugh or Tomlin will block or tackle Sunday night, their impact will be derived from their decisions, motivational ploys and how they handle the pressure of another trademark Ravens-Steelers showdown.
"It's not me versus coach Harbaugh, it's the Pittsburgh Steelers versus the Ravens," Tomlin said. "So, I've always approached it that way. I really don't approach it as if it's me against the man standing on the other sideline."