Part of what makes quarterback Joe Flacco so good in the playoffs is his aggressiveness.
As he said following the Ravens' wild-card win in Pittsburgh, it's about "playing aggressive football – not having a conscience."
That's why Flacco won't avoid Revis Island, the airspace occupied by Patriots six-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Flacco agreed with a reporter that it's a balancing act between staying away from a great player and still attacking a defense.
"If you go out there and you try to change things around and avoid a guy or pick your spots to go at a guy, then I think you're usually taking away a piece of your offense that you rely on a lot," Flacco said. "You allow them to dictate something by who they match him on or who he happens to be on on that play.
"I think as a play-caller, you have to go out there and rely on your guys that you have out there. Rely on the fact that they have ability. As a quarterback, you have to just out there and go through your reads. If he's open to him, throw it to him. If he's not, don't. We're going to have to make contested catches, contested throws, all those things."
Saturday will be the first time Flacco sees Revis in a Patriots uniform, but they've squared off twice before during their careers (in 2010 and 2011). According to Pro Football Focus, Flacco attempted five combined passes in Revis' direction in those two games. None were completed.
So the next completion Flacco has against Revis will be the first.
"I know in the past when we've played against some guys and tried to avoid them or done things game-plan wise to get matchups in other places, it usually just takes your attention away from what you should be doing," Flacco said. "I think that has a bigger effect than sometimes the actual guy can."
The Ravens know how big an effect Revis can have. On Monday, Head Coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens instruct their cornerbacks to watch film of Revis to learn the craft.
"'Watch how he plays technique. Watch how square he plays, how patient he is. He's always in the right spot,'" Harbaugh tells his cornerbacks. "[It] seems like they run the routes right to him. He has a knack, and he's as good as he ever was."
The challenge with the Patriots secondary is that Revis isn't the only threat. It's not like teams can simply avoid him and have success elsewhere.
New England also signed 6-foot-4, 220-pound former Pro Bowl cornerback Brandon Browner away from the Super Bowl champion Seahawks this offseason. They have one of the top safeties in Devin McCourty and solid No. 3 and No. 4 cornerbacks in Kyle Arrington and Logan Ryan.
Wide receiver Torrey Smith said he's expecting the more physical Browner to match up on him, which would leave Revis on Steve Smith Sr. But Torrey Smith wasn't blinking when asked about the level of competition he'll face.
"You have some talented guys that we have a lot of respect for," Smith said. "But, we go against NFL corners all the time, and obviously, Darrelle is one of the best. We also have to go against [Browns cornerback] Joe [Haden] throughout the year, who is one of the best, as well."
Torrey Smith caught a 53-yard pass over Haden for one of the Ravens' biggest plays of the year in Baltimore's playoff-clinching Week 17 win. The Ravens receivers are hot, and enter Saturday's game feeling they can still make plays against a tough secondary.
"We really can't be too fancy. Just make plays," Smith said. "There's really no rocket science to it, we've just got to go out there and just play ball."