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Old 01-15-2011, 08:30 AM   #1
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Default Ravens vs. Steelers could be test case for new NFL OT rules

Ravens vs. Steelers could be test case for new NFL OT rules

By Gary Mihoces, USA TODAY
PITTSBURGH The NFL's new overtime rule for the playoffs is in force. It has yet to be used. Given the history of tight finishes between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers, might OT enter the equation here Saturday?

"Hey, if I had to bet which two teams are going to be the first ones to go do it, it would be Baltimore and Pittsburgh," says Steelers linebacker Larry Foote.

"I mean every game is decided by three points. It seems like every game is going to go down to it. So I'd like to see it. As long as we're the last team standing, I'm cool."

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Pittsburgh and Baltimore play at least twice a year in the AFC North. In five of their last six regular season meetings, the margin of victory has been three points (with the teams entering overtime twice in the past three seasons). The lone exception was a four-point Pittsburgh win, 13-9 in Baltimore in 2008.

The last playoff meeting between the two wasn't quite that close at the finish, but it was tight. Pittsburgh won the AFC title game 23-14 here in the 2008 season with the help of a late interception return touchdown by Troy Polamalu.

In 2010, the Ravens won 17-14 in October in Pittsburgh. The Steelers won 13-10 in Baltimore in December.

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"To me, it's definitely the best rivalry in sports. It's the most physical game of the year.," says Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs.

"So, that's just what it is. It's going to be a physical gang fight, just like the first two games were."

Except maybe longer.

Under the new overtime rule:

If the team that gets the ball first in overtime scores a touchdown on its first drive, the game is over.

If the team that gets the ball first scores a field goal on its first drive, the other team gets a chance with the ball. If it scores a touchdown, it wins. If it gets a matching field goal, play continues until the next score.

Both teams must get the opportunity to possess the ball in overtime -- as long as the opening drive doesn't end in a touchdown.

The first case could happen here.

"Yeah it could. That's a new rule that none of us have ever had to deal with, really. It's not so much emphasis on the coin toss as there used to be," says Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel.

"But hopefully it doesn't get to that point. Hopefully, we can just take care of business in the four quarters we're allotted."

If neither team manages that, it could come down to the placekickers: Shaun Suisham of Pittsburgh and Billy Cundiff of Baltimore.

While Suisham says invocation of the new rule "would be interesting," he would prefer to see Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger taking a knee at the end of the game to wrap up a victory.

"I'd rather see the guys in victory formation, but if I'm asked to do it I certainly will be ready," says Suisham.

He says the new rule won't make his job any different.

"No, absolutely. I don't ever want to over-complicate what I do. I go on the field and kick the ball through the uprights," says Suisham.

This time, Suisham or Cundiff might have to kick more than one field goal in overtime to win.

"You never know what's going to happen during the game," says Suisham. "I'll be prepared for whatever I'm asked to do."
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