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Ravens, Steelers True Rivals?

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The rivalry between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers is one of the most hard hitting and intense in the National Football League. Both teams are members of the AFC North and play at least twice a year in what are often battles for supremacy in the division. Both teams are known for fielding tough, hard-hitting defensive squads, giving their games an extra element of physicality.

The two teams have met in the playoffs three times, all resulting in Steelers wins. They are the only two teams in the AFC North to have won the Superbowl, and usually finish one and two in the division. When the game is played in Baltimore the series is tied at 8-8 but in Pittsburgh the Steelers hold a 10-5 advantage (including playoffs).

It is currently the top rivalry for both teams as far as the players and coaches are concerned. In Baltimore, it has the added element of a small number of former Baltimore Colts fans in the area becoming Steelers fans after the Colts moved, then retaining their affair with the Steelers after the Ravens moved to Baltimore. The fact that the cities are only 243 miles from each other helps to heat this ongoing feud because the fans are constantly co-mingling.

Every so often on a sports talk show you'll hear someone call in and question the rivalry status of the Steelers and Ravens. The usual reasons for this are the Steelers have won every meaningful game of late and have performed better in the playoffs. Before week one of the 2011 NFL season there were even Steelers players questioning the fact that this is a true rivalry. If these two teams are not rivals than what teams in the NFL are?

As a Ravens fan I find this a ridiculous question. These two teams harbor a genuine dislike for each other to begin with. Add the fact that they are constantly competing for the AFC North crown and a rivalry is born. The all time regular season record between these two teams is 18-13 Pittsburgh. That doesn't seem so lopsided to me. Yes, it's true Pittsburgh has had our number in the play-offs but that happens in rivalries. It has never changed the intensity of the games between them.

I have friends that are Steelers fans and I know they despise the Ravens and I certainly know how I and other Ravens fans feel about the Steelers. This week in Pittsburgh it is Ravens week and hate is on the menu. Here in Baltimore, Steelers week is the talk of the town. Two grown men can't bump into each other on the street without voicing their opinion on the upcoming contest. If this isn't a rivalry I'm not sure what that word means any more...

If these teams are not rivals explain this comment by Hines Ward?

"The coaches hate each other, the players hate each other... There's no calling each other after the game and inviting each other out to dinner. But the feeling's mutual: They don't like us, and we don't like them. There's no need to hide it, they know it, and we know it. It's going to be one of those black and blue games."

They say actions speak louder than words. Go ahead and put on a game tape of any Ravens-Steelers game and tell me what actions are taking place on every down. This is the best rivalry we have in the NFL today and it is a privilege to be a part of it!!

Oh yeah, here are some quotes by Terrell Suggs himself on the upcoming match up between these two teams!

• "We have been declared war upon. We are the enemy of the state."

• "[Heinz Field] is my Madison Square Garden. I love playing in this stadium, I love the way the people treat me, the welcoming they give me with the No. 1's. I love it. We're going on the road in probably the toughest stadium to play in the NFL. We're expecting a physical football game. This is football."

• "I'm looking right at you 86. I need you to play. Please put on that 86, that smile and all the things you do. We need all that for this game."

• "They're definitely going to have some 'Let's get after them' to their game. But in hindsight, who knocked us out of the playoffs last year? In 2008, a certain team beat us to go to the Super Bowl, and danced all over the field, held up the AFC Championship trophy. We had to sit by and watch that. There's a little salt in the wound on both sides." [Note: Sounds like there's only salt in one side's wound.]

• "We know what this game's about. [Expletive] it. Let's do it."

• "I love all those guys, of course. There's nobody I hate. Come on now. I'm a Baltimore Raven and you ask me do I hate anybody in Pittsburgh. I think you gotta answer that question yourself."

• "The defense is a means of survival in every division if you don't got the pretty boy from up north. If you don't got him, then you better have a good defense. And it showed last week that even that won't get it done for you."

(On watching Pittsburgh beat Tom Brady and New England last week.) "It was a lose-lose game for me. I like when they hit him but, like I said, whatever the outcome of the game, I couldn't win."

• "Fifty-five is going to be on the field regardless, even if I got one shoulder."

(On his earlier statement that he owned Ben Roethlisberger).) "[Thunderous laughter] No man owns anybody, but if there's anybody who can bring him down single-handedly by themselves, it's definitely me. But I'm pretty sure he has something in store to make sure I don't have a good day."

• "If a ref throws a flag of personal foul or illegal hitting, I think he's robbing the fans and he's robbing both teams. Let us play football. Let us all go in a room and lock the door."

If that doesn't get you pumped up what will??!!