How are the Ravens prepping for the Steelers?
It didn't take long for James Ihedigbo to get the feel for what the Ravens-Steelers rivalry is all about.
Playing in his first Ravens-Steelers game last season at Heinz Field, Ihedigbo barreled through untouched on a safety blitz and flattened Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich.
The hit could practically heard back in Baltimore, and Ihedigbo fully expects that kind of hitting again on Thursday night when the two fierce AFC North rivals get together at M&T Bank Stadium for a nationally-televised Thursday night game.
"It's one of those buckle-your-chinstrap games," Ihedigbo said. "It's gonna be a physical game. And if you ain't ready for it, you're gonna get knocked in the face. That's the type of game it is."
"It's one of those smash-mouth football games, like old-school style football," he added.
Ihedigbo, who was signed just days before last season after being cut by the Patriots, has become one of the vocal leaders of the Ravens defense. It's often Ihedigbo who leads the team huddle at the end of pregame warmups, and he has taken Bernard Pollard's place as the bone-crunching hitter at the back end of the Ravens defense. He has 62 tackles this season, most among defensive backs.
As a former member of the Jets and Patriots, Ihedigbo has played in other rivalry-type games, but said Ravens-Steelers always has a little more juice. Plus, as is usually the case, the game carries with it enormous playoff implications. The fact that it will be played before a national television audience on Thanksgiving night only adds to that.
"You want to be playing prime time," he said. "You want the world to be watching. We have that opportunity. We say it all the time when we play on defense: 'It's our show.' "