View Full Version : Steelers-Ravens: Rivalry for the ages

01-17-2009, 01:27 AM
Steelers-Ravens: Rivalry for the ages

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/columnis ... alry_N.htm (http://www.usatoday.com/sports/columnist/lopresti/2009-01-16-steelers-ravens-rivalry_N.htm)

By Mike Lopresti, Gannett News Service
PITTSBURGH This rivalry is for people who like their coffee black and their ice cream vanilla.

It is for those who still make their calls on landline phones, still mail postcards, still listen to music on CDs.

It is black and white television, and the milkman coming to the door. As straightforward as a fight on the playground.

This rivalry is about today, but smacks of yesterday.

"When you get two bullies going up against each other," Pittsburgh linebacker James Farrior said Friday of the AFC Championship Game, "who's the strongest bully?"

It will be snowy and cold and brutal and bare-knuckles when the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers meet here Sunday. Hit and be hit. Trash talk given and received. No quarter asked for or granted.

Not many points, either.

"It's going to be ... a 3 hour-and-30-minute fight," Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said.

They have met twice this season. In 126 minutes of football the first game went overtime the offenses managed four touchdowns between them. The Steelers won both, by a combined seven points. Not that it matters now.

What is more clear-cut than ruthless defense? Than smash-mouth football? Than, as Pittsburgh receiver Hines Ward described the relationship, "genuine dislike?"

This rivalry means the losers will endure their worst nightmare Sunday. Not only will be they miss the Super Bowl, but they will have to watch the other team go. They'd rather jump head first into the nearby Monongahela River in January.

"If we win this game, Baltimore can beat us 10 straight times, but they will remember this game, and vice versa. That's what is at stake," Ward said. "The winner of this game is going to stick with you a very, very long time."

This rivalry is not the Red Sox against the Yankees, who have tried to outspend one another into oblivion. The NFL regulates a level payroll playing field. The Steelers and Ravens must attack not with cashier checks, but pure emotion, pure brawn, pure malice.

"Hate is a strong word," Ravens' safety Ed Reed said this week. "I think it is more a respect thing. They know we play hard and we know they play hard.

"It would be something if one of those guys or one of us said we didn't respect (the other side), because it would be a lie."

OK. But consider this verbal blitz on Ward by Baltimore linebacker Bart Scott, quoted Friday in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"His time will come. He'll get his."

(Note how it's always "he" and "his." Scott will not even mention Ward's name).

"He'll come across the middle one day and someone will him or take out his knee. The guy will be fined and (Ward) will be gone. No one will care. No one will even care. No one will send him any cards saying they're sorry. Not to that guy.

"You reap what you sow."

Over to you, Hines:

"I'm a likable guy, I don't know what's not to like about me ... I could care less if they dislike me.

"I kind of get a big smile on my face, because they're more worried about me than trying to stop (Steelers running back) Willie Parker ... I take pride in trying to get up under their skins. I guess they're trying to knock the smile off my face."

Also, a television man read to Ward something Baltimore receiver Derrick Mason said earlier this week.

Mason: "They're going to realize we're coming at them quickly. The Ravens are coming, so prepare yourself."

Ward, trying to sound like a teenager at a horror movie: "Whooooo.

"I don't know if I'm supposed to be scared, or laugh."

This rivalry is for fans of the Jerry Springer Show ... and soap operas ... and football.

Because the most compelling thing about Sunday is that beneath all the chatter are teams filled with ferociously competitive athletes.

"All of them play the game the same," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "They put every ounce of their fiber into it.

"We both play football in a similar matter. We're a fundamentalist outfit. As are they. We win by attrition. We force our will on our opponent. As do they."

What better drama than a reviled enemy blocking the last curve to the Super Bowl?

"We wouldn't really want it any other way," Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said.

Neither would we.

01-17-2009, 06:50 AM
The media is making it sound like they just discovered this rivalry.

We've hated the Browns for years.

Isn't the Baltimore Browns rivalry one of the older rivalries in the NFL?