The Miami Dolphins will travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers on Sunday, and when the NFL schedule was released, WR Mike Wallace more than likely took notice of his Week 14 opponent.
On Tuesday, he spoke at length about the opportunity to face the team that let him leave via free agency last offseason.
"It's going to be exciting," Wallace said. "I don't want to get caught up in too much hype about a personal battle with these guys, because it's not really about that. It's about moving forward. These guys stand in the way of our playoff hopes. They're another team in the way that has to go down."
The Steelers drafted Wallace in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft, and watched him quickly develop into one of the best deep-threat receivers in the league. He made the 2011 Pro Bowl on the merits of a 72-catch, 1,193-yard season.
But after four years with the Steelers, he left last summer to sign a five-year, $60 million deal with Miami. Now the two teams are among the scrum fighting for the sixth AFC playoff spot (Miami is 6-6 while Pittsburgh is 5-7).
Wallace said he expects the environment in Pittsburgh to be much more hostile now that he is wearing aqua and white, and not the Steelers' black and gold.
"I already know how my welcome is going to be. It's not going to be too pretty," he said. "I'm on a new team. I'm pretty sure they're not going to like that very much. But we all have to move on.
"Everything happens for a reason. This is still a business. You can't get caught up in too many feelings."
The Dolphins are on the playoff bubble after following up a 3-0 start with a 4-game losing streak. Though they are tied with Baltimore for the sixth playoff seed, the Ravens hold the tie-breaker due to winning their match-up in October.
The Dolphins need to win 3 of 4 of their remaining games to have a realistic shot at the playoffs. Wallace thinks that despite his early struggles in Miami's offense, he can help put the Dolphins over the top. In the past two weeks, he has caught 12 passes for 209 yards and 2 touchdowns.
"I'm feeling more comfortable every week in the offense," he said. "It's time to hit my stride. No more warming up. It's time to go. It's December. You've got to make plays now. You don't have time to wait."