But from the stories he’s been hearing this week, he thinks he’s got a pretty decent idea of what it’s going to be like playing there Sunday.
“It sounds like a game where every time it’s rainy, cold and rugged,” Brown said.
The Ravens have come to embrace Heinz Field. They have won three straight regular-season games in their enemy’s house, and will look to make it four in a row this Sunday.
“It’s Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh. It’s a game that we’ve longed for, all of us here in Baltimore,” said Head Coach John Harbaugh, who likes to blare the Steelers’ song, “Renegade” and Pittsburgh anthem “Black And Yellow” at practice.
“I’m going to keep that one to myself,” he said. “I like it there. It’s what a football atmosphere should be.”
The Ravens can count on getting one-finger salutes on their bus ride from the team hotel, across the bridge and into Heinz Field. Once there, fans start their heckling of the Ravens players. Suggs often likes to give just as much as he gets.
The games are known for their physicality, big plays and big hits, which just adds to the intensity inside the stadium. When the Steelers need a big defensive stop, they blast “Renegade” over the loudspeakers and the upper deck literally shakes.
Pittsburgh’s turf is soft, almost like the sand in an ancient Roman pit. With a late 4:25 p.m. kickoff, the two teams will be battling as the sun sets and they play the fourth quarter under darkness.
“It’s tough to put in words,” Flacco said. “It’s definitely a cool trip to make. It’s a big game, and that’s the biggest thing about it. They’re a good team. We’re a good team. That’s the way it’s been, and because of that, it makes for a big football game.”
The Ravens’ past three wins in Pittsburgh have all been of the dramatic variety.
In 2010, wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh caught an 18-yard touchdown pass with 32 seconds left to give the Ravens a 17-14 victory. In 2011, wide receiver
Steelers safety Ryan Clark said the Ravens may be having so much success in Pittsburgh because the aura of playing there is gone due to suiting up there so often.
“A lot of times when you go into certain places it may seem mystical because of what you hear about those places or the way that the fans are,” Clark said. “When you don’t travel to Seattle a lot, it’s a tough place to play, no matter how good that team is. I think it’s the same way with Heinz Field.
“But when you come here a lot, you start to join in on the excitement and you start to understand the tradition. It’s not a game where I think home field advantage makes much of a difference, unless the home team is really playing well and you can get your fans involved.”
Smith exhibited that attitude this week. Although he said he’s excited to travel to Pittsburgh because it’s fun to hear from the Steelers fans, he wasn’t treating it like a big deal.
“It’s just another place to play,” Smith said. “It’s not like we’re going to panic or try to prepare any differently like we don’t plan to win every single week.”