Friday, January 14, 2011 Updated: January 15, 11:37 AM ET
Troy Polamalu probable vs. Ravens
ESPN.com news services
Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was listed as probable Friday for their playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens and will play despite a sore ankle that stems from an injury to his Achilles tendon.
Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith, who had been listed as doubtful Friday with a triceps injury, will not play Saturday,
a league official told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
The eighth meeting in three seasons between the AFC North rivals will leave the winner one victory short of the Super Bowl. The survivor of Saturday's AFC divisional game meets the winner of Sunday's Jets-Patriots game in the AFC Championship Game on Jan. 23.
AFC North blog
ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley writes about all things AFC North in his division blog.
The Ravens rebounded from last month's loss to the Steelers in Baltimore to win their last five, with tight end Todd Heap -- who missed nearly all the Dec. 5 game with a hamstring injury -- making 10 catches against Kansas City.
But there's much to worry the Ravens, as the Steelers have won six of seven.
Polamalu, bothered for weeks by a sore right Achilles tendon, is the healthiest he's been since midseason. Ben Roethlisberger, under constant pressure last month from linebacker Terrell Suggs, often uses his size and strength to extend plays that appear to have broken down.
Receiver Mike Wallace, who will be playing in his first postseason game, has seven catches of 40-plus yards and possesses the kind of speed the Ravens haven't seen elsewhere.
"He hit a gear that I didn't even know existed in a human being on a little pop pass Ben threw to him [against Carolina]," Suggs said. "I was like, 'Wow, that's just amazing.' "
There's often a 'wow' factor in Ravens-Steelers games.
Steelers receiver Hines Ward knows he doesn't want to experience the opposite feeling, especially given that, due to the NFL's unstable labor situation, the loser won't know for sure when it will play again.
"We know what's at stake, and whoever wins this game will have to think about that loss all offseason," Ward said. "It's going to be physical. And it usually comes down to the fourth quarter."
Information from ESPN.com's John Clayton and The Associated Press was used in this report.