Failure to beat Steelers haunts Ravens evermore
Thursday, September 08, 2011
By Kevin Cowherd, The Baltimore Sun
In Baltimore, the land of the perpetually anxious, Ravens fans are damp with the usual flop sweat as the season opener against the Steelers approaches.
Also as usual, people in this town are ascribing all sorts of Armageddon-like significance to the game.
In this case, though, the fans might have a point. Because this is a huge game. And the reason is simple: the Steelers are in the Ravens' heads, big-time. And until the Ravens find a way to exorcise their black-and-gold demons -- and a smackdown of the Steelers Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium would help -- their run for a Super Bowl ring goes nowhere.
If you doubt how much the Ravens obsess about their arch-rivals, you did not hear Terrell Suggs speak to the media Wednesday, right before thunderstorms of biblical proportions drove practice inside at the Castle.
Suggs, the Ravens All-Pro outside linebacker, can come on like a buffoon sometimes. Or even like a space cadet. But the fact is, he also can be one of the most thoughtful Ravens when he wants to be, when he is not straining for laughs.
When he was asked about the Steelers Wednesday, Suggs grimaced and shook his head sadly. No jokes this time.
"They spoiled our Super Bowl dream for two out of the last three years," he said, shaking his head. "So, we gotta switch that. It's sickening and it ends our season every year and we lose to our division rival.
"I'm sick of it. I'm disgusted. I'm tired of having a sick feeling in my stomach."
I know, I know. You wish the guy would open up a little. Tell us what he really thinks.
But Suggs occasionally will do that for you, bare his soul, before a big game. And when was the last time the Ravens had a big opening game like this, a Week 1 showdown in what has become one of the best rivalries in all of sports?
"It's the best in sports," Suggs corrected, "because everything the fans want to see out of a rivalry is in this game. The hatred between the two teams. The physicality."
Except there is just one little problem with the rivalry: the Ravens have dropped six of the past eight games between the two teams. And that includes that horror show in the divisional playoff round in January at Heinz Field, when the Ravens led, 21-7, at halftime and blew the game, 31-24.