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Steelers confident that kicker Shaun Suisham matches up well against Billy Cundiff

Shaun Suisham is just about the polar opposite of former Steelers kicker Jeff Reed.

He's quiet, he's humble, he's Canadian, he's never been photographed shirtless and intoxicated in public, and he seems like an unlikely candidate to rip his own fans and his own field if something goes wrong.

He's also been virtually automatic on field goals this year (14 of 15) ever since the Steelers decided to cut Reed in November. Reed had been with the team for eight years, but wore out his welcome in Pittsburgh with some of his wacky antics off the field and his inconsistency on it. He was, however, with the Steelers for two Super Bowl runs.

"This game is certainly more meaningful," Suisham said. "We need to win. But that certainly doesn't change anything that I do to get ready for the game."

Baltimore might feel that it would have the advantage in a close game thanks to the exceptional year Pro Bowl selection Billy Cundiff has had, but the Steelers feel pretty good about their kicker as well.

"He's banged just about every kick we sent him out there to hit," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said of Suisham. "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."

Suisham and Cundiff were actually in Dallas together briefly, although they were both fighting for the same job so they weren't exactly close.

"He's really been impressive this year," Suisham said. "His kickoffs have really been impressive."

Suisham said he was not worried about feeling any additional playoff pressure on Saturday. He has, after all, been essentially kicking for his job every since he got to Pittsburgh.

"Certainly the stakes are higher for the team," Suisham said. "But for me, it's the same. I'm always going out on the field with only one goal, and that's to make the field goal. I'll be prepared for whatever I'm asked to do."

Hit relived

Most players aren't interested in seeing the replay of the violent hits they took, especially if it resulted in an injury. But Steelers tight end Heath Miller said he did watch the replay several times of the hit delivered by Jameel McClain at M&T Bank Stadium that knocked him out of the Steelers 13-10 victory over the Ravens. McClain wasn't flagged for the hit, but he was fined $35,000 by the league for helmet-to-helmet contact after the game.

"You don't like to replay that kind of stuff in your head, but I saw it," Miller said. "In my mind, it's in the past. It happened awhile ago. I've moved on from it."

The hit, which resulted in a concussion, kept Miller out of the next two games. He returned for the final two contests of the regular season, however, and had two of his best games of the year. Against the Carolina Panthers, he had five catches for 70 yards, and against the Cleveland Browns, Miller caught for balls for 55 yards and a touchdown. But he realizes the Ravens are more physical than either of those teams.

"We're going to have our hands full," Miller said. "Hopefully we'll put a good performance together or we're not going to go where we want go."

Defending Flacco

One thing the Steelers definitely took note of from watching the Ravens 30-7 playoff win over the Kansas City Chiefs was that Joe Flacco made plays with his feet. Although no one will ever confuse Flacco for Michael Vick, Tomlin did say it's going to be an area of concern for the Steelers if Flacco can scramble and pick up first downs when the pocket collapses.

"He has escapability," Tomlin said. "Now, in my opinion he is still a thrower. He buys time to find eligibles down the field. By no means is he a lawn deer. He is not an immobile target if you will. But his escapability is underrated."

kevin.vanvalkenburg@baltsun.com

twitter.com/KVanValkenburg

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Suisham's playoff experience. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

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