The Patriots (12-0) may have the perfect record, Smith said
Wednesday, but it should be New England that is worried about the
Steelers (9-3) rather than the other way around.
"People keep asking me if we're ready for the Patriots," Smith
said. "They should be asking if they're ready for us."
Is Smith so confident that he is willing to copy one of former
Pittsburgh linebacker Joey Porter's familiar motivational ploys by
guaranteeing the Steelers will win?
"We're going to win," Smith said. "Yeah, I can guarantee a
win. As long as we come out and do what we got to do. Both sides of
the ball are rolling, and if our special teams come through for us,
we've got a good chance to win."
Despite Smith's abundant optimism, no other Steelers are
designating Sunday as guaranteed win day. Linebacker James Farrior,
cautioning that Smith hasn't been in the NFL long and may not
realize what he is saying, doesn't think the Patriots will pay any
Smith, a third-round pick from Syracuse in 2006, became the
starter at free safety only after Ryan Clark needed spleen surgery
in late October.
"He better keep his mouth shut," Farrior said, though he was
laughing and wasn't angry at his teammate. "Oh well, I guess we've
got to go deal with that."
Or maybe not. Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, asked by Fox
Sports Radio about the comments, answered, "Who was it?"
Told it was Smith, Harrison said, "Never heard of him."
Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel also doubts Smith's words
will have any impact, even if the Steelers might have been better
off not giving an exceptional team like New England any
"I think a lot of us in here feel like this is one of those
games where we really don't have that much to lose," Keisel said.
"If we win the game, well, we weren't supposed to win, and if we
lose the game, we were supposed to lose. They're this big, great
team that no one can touch."
The Steelers stopped the Patriots' record 21-game winning streak
in 2004, but they have dropped five of six to New England since
1997 -- with two losses in AFC championship games.
Still, Smith is convinced there are multiple reasons why the
Steelers will be the team that makes certain New England doesn't
become the first NFL team to sweep a 16-game schedule.
Pittsburgh's defense has allowed the fewest points and yards in
the NFL and, Smith said, "We don't expect that to change."
Also, he said, the Steelers are more physical than any team New
England has faced and are so balanced offensively, the Patriots
can't stop both Willie Parker's running and Ben Roethlisberger's
Adding to that, several key players could return to Pittsburgh's starting lineup for the showdown. Wide receiver Santonio Holmes, strong safety Troy Polamalu and left offensive tackle Marvel Smith could all be available.
All three have missed the last two games since being hurt in the Steelers' loss to the New York Jets. Holmes has been recovering from a high ankle sprain, while Polamalu had a sprained knee and Smith has been dealing with a disc problem in his back.
All three players practiced on Wednesday. Coach Mike Tomlin previously said the players' availability for Sunday would be determined by how they performed in practice.
If the Patriots thought the Ravens were physical Monday night
when New England was forced to stage a desperation rally to win
27-24 in the final minute, Smith said, wait until they meet up with
"They say they played their toughest game last week against
Baltimore, but I think we play harder than Baltimore," Smith said.
"They're going to be in for it again this week. They're going to
have a tough week in front of them."
Smith isn't worried his words might give the Patriots a
motivational kick during a tough week in which the Patriots are
playing two physical AFC North teams in a seven-day span. Or that
his own teammates will dislike what he is saying.
"They will back me up," Smith said. "Everyone has the same
attitude anyway, so it's not like it's a big thing."
If Smith didn't give the Patriots enough hey-look-at-this
material, here's this nugget for the Patriots' receiving corps:
Smith said they may have Randy Moss, but Cincinnati -- not New
England -- has the league's best wide receivers.
"They've got Walker and Moss," Smith said, referring to
Patriots receivers Wes Welker and Randy Moss. "But they're not
The Steelers shut down the Bengals' passing game during a 24-10
victory Sunday night, limiting star receiver Chad Johnson to six
harmless catches. Carson Palmer completed only 38.6 percent of his
passes (17-of-44) and was 11-of-37 (29.7 percent) after
Cincinnati's opening drive.
Keisel could only laugh after hearing Smith's comments, saying,
"Maybe I should start [guaranteeing games]."
Will he begin doing that next week, when the Steelers play the
Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4)?
"Maybe the week after that," he said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.