One of my favorite things about last season was watching Jarret Johnson de-cleat Hines Ward in one of the Baltimore, Pittsburgh match ups. Of course I was happy we won the game and swept the series with our arch rivals but that play will always stand in my head as one of my favorite football memories.
Now here we are in the off season and Johnson is no longer a Raven and Ward is no longer a Steeler but we as Ravens fans will always have that hit to remember as our last memory of a hated rival. It's always that last hit that a player will remember. Game, set, match Ravens.
"I keep hearing about the hit," said Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs. "I hear JJ killed Hines Ward. I look forward to seeing it. During the game, there are about 2,000 things going on and you don’t get to see everything.
" When asked if the hit on Ward would draw an ovation, Suggs said: "It probably will. Hines Ward is definitely the guy we dislike the most, just like I’m the guy the Steelers dislike the most."
Hines has been a menace in Baltimore for years. He always had a knack for finding our players when they had their backs turned and blindsiding them with jarring blows. What's worse, he always had a big smile on his face afterwards. It's like he was a kid that knew he had gotten away with something bad and couldn't help but laugh about it.
Hines did not have a good season in 2011. Not only was he pushed down the depth chart by the Steelers younger and faster receivers but the hit by Johnson was not the only retribution Ward felt at the hands of his enemies. Ward also took a big hit by Ed Reed that kept him to a loss of yardage on the play and made him look old and slow. Then there was also the play where Ray Lewis and Bernard Pollard caused him to fumble the ball and leave the game with concussion like symptoms.
"When I hit him, I didn’t expect him to do a freakin’ flip," said Johnson. "I was just kind of reacting to the play. You don’t even remember a lot...
Kind of makes you think doesn't it? With all the talks of bounties going on in the NFL, do you think the Ravens may have had a bounty on their most despised rival?
Why not? Many players have stated over the years that Hines Ward is a dirty player and they do not get along with him. Especially Ed Reed who has been on the other side of some of Wards blindside hits over the years. In fact it would not surprise me if Ward had a little something to do with Reed's neck problems over the years. I mean, it can't have helped...
The Ravens must have known this would be Ward's last season as a Steeler. They also must have known that he would only be seeing the field on a limited basis due to the teams growing young receiving core. I think it is safe to say it was now or never this season for hunting Hines, and the Ravens knew it.
I hope that this is not the case but when you add it all up I'm sure Ward had a target on his back every time these two teams played each other. I suppose that is what he should expect though. This is a man's game and you can't go around giving cheap shots to a bunch of guys that pride themselves on being tough for a living. Yeah Ward had it coming, let's just hope that no money exchanged hands over it. I'm sure that John Harbaugh and the Ravens brass are much too responsible and mature for that type of thing.