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Tomlin: No time for 'hocus-pocus' theory

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By Scott Brown
Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009

To get to the Super Bowl, the Steelers must beat the Baltimore Ravens and crush a theory.

You know, the one about how difficult it is for a team to beat an opponent three times in one season.

"I personally don't subscribe to that hocus-pocus," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.

The Steelers and Ravens will collide for a third time this season Sunday night at Heinz Field with the AFC championship on the line. The Steelers have been installed as 6-point favorites in the 6:30 p.m. game, and history favors them as well as the oddsmakers.

Twice, the Steelers have beaten an opponent three times in a season — in 1994 and 2002, both against the Cleveland Browns. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, teams that have had a chance to beat a team in the playoffs that they swept during the regular season are 11-7 since 1970.

The Steelers are 7-0 in third games against the same opponent in a season.

Not that Tomlin will put any credence in those statistics.

"What happened in the other two games will have no bearing on the outcome of this game," Tomlin said.

The Steelers and Ravens engaged in hard-hitting, defensive struggles when they played during the regular season. Only a combined seven points separated the AFC North rivals in the two games.

The Steelers defeated the Ravens 23-20 in overtime Sept. 29 at Heinz Field. In the Dec. 14 rematch in Baltimore, the Steelers rallied in the waning moments for a 13-9 victory.

The one advantage the Ravens may have Sunday is the law of average, because they could have easily won either game.

"It's going to be a battle to play a team three times in one year, especially the rivalry that we have," Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "I think it's going to be one for the ages."

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