Almost an afterthought for the previous four weeks, Anquan Boldin re-emerged as a relevant and dangerous option in the Ravens offense.
The wide receiver demonstrated again why he was the team's top receiver in the regular season with his five-catch, 64-yard, one-touchdown performance in the Ravens' 30-7 pasting of the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday's AFC Wildcard playoff game.
"Some games, some guys' numbers are going to get called more than others', and you want to use different players," Boldin said after the team's practice Tuesday. "Whatever it takes for us to win, as long as we keep advancing, I'm fine."
In the last four games of the regular season, Boldin had caught a combined eight passes for 67 yards and zero touchdowns. But unlike other defenses, the Chiefs didn't bracket Boldin on Sunday.
"They were playing a lot of man coverage," he said. "So we were able to run our normal stuff, get open, and get guys in one-on-one situations, which they were able to win. … If you ask any receiver in this locker room, if they get one-on-one coverage, everyone feels like they'll come out with a win."
Boldin has fared well this season against the Steelers, making 12 grabs for 186 yards and a touchdown. In the Ravens' 13-10 loss on Dec. 5, Boldin caught five passes for 118 yards and the touchdown.
"They like to blitz a lot," he said of Pittsburgh. "Whenever you blitz, you leave your corners alone on the outside. But they're a good defense, you can't take that away from them. They get a lot of pressure, and that's the way they cause a lot of chaos for offenses."
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Boldin will have the defense's attention
"[N]o question, he is a legit red-zone threat," Tomlin said. "We, of course, gave up a touchdown to him in Baltimore last time we played them. We're not concerned about trying to stop Anquan Boldin individually or Ray Rice individually or Todd Heap individually. We recognize that they're good players — as is their quarterback and others. We just want to do enough to win."
Free safety Ed Reed returned to the Ravens on Tuesday after spending one day with his family in Louisiana to deal with the disappearance of his brother, who jumped into the Mississippi River to elude police last Friday. He came back to Ravens headquarters on Tuesday, attending meetings and a late afternoon practice.
"He was in good spirits," coach John Harbaugh said. "He seemed like he was doing pretty well."
Reed declined to talk to reporters on Tuesday, but running back and close friend Willis McGahee said the players knew Reed would return to prepare for Saturday's AFC Divisional playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"Ed's not the type of guy who's just going to stay away from the game," McGahee said. "He loves the game, he loves the guys in this locker room. He has a lot going on right now, but as a team, we have his back, and as a friend, I've got his back. So I knew from the beginning, he was going to come back. He just had to go home and check on his family."
Roethlisberger holds no grudge
The last time the Ravens and Steelers met, Pittsburgh left M&T Bank Stadium on Dec. 5 with a win — and a broken nose for Ben Roethlisberger.
But the quarterback said he understands that the left-handed blow his face absorbed from defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was inadvertent.
"It wasn't like I was mad," Roethlisberger said during a conference call with Baltimore reporters Tuesday afternoon. "No way was it on purpose. So I didn't feel any kind of way about it."
Roethlisberger said he was unaware of Harbaugh's comment about being "glad we broke his nose" until the Steelers' public relation staff informed him earlier Tuesday.
"Coach Harbaugh and I have a pretty good relationship," said Roethlisberger, who — like Harbaugh — played at Miami of Ohio. "I always talk to him before the game, just kind of a hello. He's a Miami guy, so I don't think he really meant anything malicious by it."
Gregg accepts Roethlisberger apology
Roethlisberger said he initially blamed his broken nose on nose tackle Kelly Gregg.
"I have to apologize to Kelly Gregg," Roethlisberger said. "I blamed him for it during the game. I'll have to apologize when I see him on the field. I was giving him a hard time. But any time that these two teams play, the winner walks off feeling pretty good about themselves. I know that because I know some of the guys over there and I know what this rivalry means. So like I said, it's always a big-time game."
After Tuesday's practice, Gregg said he was eager to hear Roethlisberger's apology.
"I'll be looking for it," Gregg said with a big smile. "Tell him to throw me a ball, too."
Harbaugh has ally
Harbaugh disagreed with the application of the "tuck" rule that reversed an apparent sack, strip and fumble recovery Sunday, and he has an ally in Mike Pereira, the former NFL Vice President of Officiating.