The pride of provocation

The Baltimore Sun

PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward said yesterday that he gets a charge out of irritating the Ravens and believes he can help his team by getting inside the heads of Baltimore's defenders.

The rivalry between Ward, a tenacious and sometimes vicious blocker, and the Ravens goes back years.

"You're hearing the [Ravens], 'Oh, you're not going to break my jaw,' " Ward said. The wide receiver broke Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers' jaw on a block earlier in the season.

"Or you're running around and they're looking at you," Ward continued. "I kind of get a big smile on my face when I hear guys talking about that because they're more worried about me than they are about stopping [running back] Willie Parker or trying to stop [tight end] Heath Miller and those guys.

"So I take pride in trying to get up under their skin because I guess they're trying to knock the smile off my face. But to have that impact on the field ... they were trying to fight me, literally, rather than try to stop our offense run plays. I'm just going to do whatever it takes to win ballgames."

Steelers get acclimated

The temperatures were in the single digits yesterday in Pittsburgh, and to get his team used to what promises to be frigid weather tomorrow night, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin had the doors to the team indoor practice facility opened.

Tomlin did not want to practice on the outdoor fields because, he said, they were icy and he didn't want to risk injury.

By opening the doors, he felt he was able to approximate likely game conditions without risking anyone getting hurt.

Speaking of the weather

The weather will get warmer by tomorrow, but warmer means from yesterday's low of minus 8 to the low-20s by game time at 6:30 p.m. There's a chance of snow showers, and winds are forecast at about 7 mph.

Injury update

Both Steelers who were on injury watch practiced yesterday - safety Troy Polamalu (calf) and center Justin Hartwig (knee).

One more shot from Ward

Some of the Steelers have heard Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason's challenge from earlier in the week that the teams remaining in the playoffs should prepare because the Ravens are coming.

Ward responded with a comical shudder and a mock, "Ewww."

"For what Derrick said, I don't know if I am supposed to be scared or laugh at that," Ward said.

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