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BTSC Steelers Six Pack: Onward to the AFC Championship Game Edition

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IX - I imagine that there's mixed feelings about the New York Jets and their brash, outspoken head coach, Rex Ryan. For this week, I certainly 'hate' the Jets. But generally speaking, I think Ryan is great for the game. You hear players and organizations talk about the NFL being a business, blah blah blah. Yes, it is a business but what they forget to include that it's show business. Entertainment. And Ryan is exceptionally entertaining. The reason I have no problem with Ryan's antics are simple: he never disparages a player or opponent. Instead, he just boldly defends and publicly builds up his own players. There's a huge difference. Anyway, here's a transcription of Ryan's latest weekly appearance on The Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio New York. If you're so inclined, you can listen to the audio file directly instead.

X - Here's another reason why I think Ryan is more genius than bafoon. He's got the Jets quiet and focused this week rather than continuing to yap just to keep up appearances. Ryan knows the Steelers are more physical and battle tested than the Pats, and it's wise that he and his team have changed gears as they get ready for Sunday's AFC title game at Heinz Field.

XIII - Good news on the injury front. Defensive end Aaron Smith, sidelined since late October with a triceps injury, returned to practice on Tuesday. Tomlin explained, "Aaron Smith is going to practice this week. We'll see where that practice takes us," Tomlin said. Even though this next quote is just stating the obvious on the part of Tomlin, I'm including it because it's Tomlin and he finds a way to make the mundane sound badass. "Snap count is probably going to be part of that discussion," Tomlin said, but that "it would be nice to add that tool to the toolbox."

Flozell Adams is also reportedly feeling better after valiantly battling through an illness during Saturday's win. Ditto for left tackle Jonathan Scott, who also left during the Divisional Round win. And to round out the good news, cornerback Bryant McFadden is expected to play against the Jets after pulling an abdominal muscle in the early moments of Saturday's win.  As Tomlin puts it, 'We're in great shape.'

XIV - When you play at an extremely high level and sport a scary looking beard, you're bound to get a little bit of love from the media. Maybe Brett Keisel should have gone to the lumberjack/wooly-mammoth look earlier in his career. Speaking of, do you think Keisel has been asked to participate in this little science experiment?

XL - Really Baltimore? It's going to take a hell of a lot more than that to continue building a team that's capable of getting by Pittsburgh in future years.  More important is retooling the interior of the offensive line and adding another blue-chip defensive talent, if you ask me.

XLIII - For those of us who viewed last Saturday's win against the Baltimore Ravens on television, we missed that Hines Ward received yet another special honor. Ward was named the inaugural winner of the United Nations NGO Positive Peace Award in the Professional Athlete category. Pearl S. Buck Int'l explained their decision to nominate Ward:

"Hines Ward changed the cultural landscape of Korea," said Janet Mintzer, president/CEO of Pearl S. Buck Intl. "After Japanese invasions, Korea placed high value on being pure-blooded Koreans, creating prejudice of bi-racial people. As a successful bi-racial Korean-American, he returned to Korea, creating media attention, which sparked a cultural shift."