Blood feud?

PITTSBURGH – When the Pittsburgh Steelers hosted the Ravens Nov. 5, more than one Baltimore player was upset at the 38-7 drubbing they endured.

But nobody took things farther than Ravens linebacker Bart Scott.

Upset over some downfield blocking by Steelers receiver Hines Ward – including one that knocked safety Ed Reed out – Scott threatened to kill Ward during the game. He then reiterated his threats to reporters after the game and again during his weekly radio show a couple of days later.

As the two teams prepare to play Sunday in their regular season finale, Ward said he's not worried about Scott's threats.

"They all want to kill me, but it's a kill me in a good way," said Ward. "I hope it's not a kill me out on the streets. I just try to play the game and be a complete wide receiver. I have guys sometimes looking at me and whether I'm going to crack down on them, instead of looking at the running back. It has an effect in the run game. That's who I am. My job is to do what I can do in the run game and when the opportunity presents itself, in the pass game and continue to make plays for my team."

Scott said Wednesday all is forgotten. But he did so in a way that certainly left the feeling that he wasn't entirely sincere.

"He's my best friend," said Scott of Ward, his tongue planted firmly in his cheek.

"Let bygones by bygones. There's too much stuff going on in the world to hold a grudge. I love Hines Ward, he's my favorite guy."

Ravens head coach Brian Billick, without saying he had a talk with Scott about his threats, let it be known that he wouldn't accept any extra-curricular activity Sunday.

"I think both players should conduct themselves properly," Billick said.

Threats on the playing field are somewhat commonplace in the NFL. But many of the Steelers felt Scott took things a little too far, particularly by talking about it days later on his radio show.

"The main thing is publicly to say that," said Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend. "The NFL is going to be watching him harder during this game than any other."

Tough scheduling

By locking up the division title over the weekend, the Steelers also set their 2008 schedule, which could include games against as many as eight playoff teams.

Pittsburgh will host Cleveland, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Houston, Indianapolis, Dallas, the New York Giants and San Diego. The Steelers will visit Cleveland, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Philadelphia, Washington and New England.

The Cowboys, Giants, Chargers, Jaguars and Patriots have already qualified for the playoffs. Washington will lock up a playoff spot in the NFC with a win Sunday, while either Tennessee or Cleveland will get the final playoff spot in the AFC.

If Houston and Philadelphia win this weekend, the only teams the Steelers are scheduled to play next season with records under .500 this season would be Cincinnati and Baltimore.

Roethlisberger practices, sparingly

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was limited in practice Wednesday with a sprained ankle, but is expected to return to full practice today.

As for playing Sunday, that remains up to head coach Mike Tomlin.

"That's up to Mike," said Roethlisberger, who added that the ankle, which was sprained last week against St. Louis is feeling much better.

"He decides who's playing this week and who's not playing. My job is to get the ankle ready and get ready to play."

Will Roethlisberger lobby to play?

"I always want to play," said Roethlisberger. "We communicate every day and I'm sure we'll communicate after film (Wednesday)."

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.


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