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Old 12-02-2010, 04:44 PM   #1
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Default Steelers, Ravens clash in first-place showdown

Steelers, Ravens clash in first-place showdown

BALTIMORE (AP) -Hateful. Violent. Contentious.

Those words are often used to describe the intense rivalry between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, two AFC North teams from blue-collar towns that play a similar brand of smashmouth football.

The buildup is often as entertaining as the game itself. In the past, Shannon Sharpe, Hines Ward, Tony Siragusa and Joey Porter fired insults at opposing players and fans, showing absolutely no regard for what juicy quotes might end up on the opposing team's locker room bulletin board.

As usual, there will be plenty at stake when the Steelers (8-3) and Ravens (8-3) clash Sunday night. The winner takes over first place in the division and will take an important step toward securing a first-round bye.

But the hype has been surprisingly, and to some unfortunately, tame.

Asked if he hated the Ravens, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger replied, "I don't hate anybody. That's a very harsh word.''

Pressed to explain the reason behind his 7-2 record as a starter against Baltimore, Roethlisberger offered: "I have no idea. Luck?''

Baltimore running back Ray Rice was asked whether the rivalry was based more on hate or respect. He began talking before the question was completed.

"I didn't mean to cut you off, but I learned from my own leader on this team - and that's Ray Lewis - the power of respect is to never disrespect,'' Rice said. "That's first and foremost about playing the Pittsburgh Steelers. We respect them. That's what the rivalry has all been about.''

Respect? Really?

"Both sides know each other very well, and I think if you do get into all of that (talking) it's because there's a common respect from both sides,'' Lewis said. "We respect them because we know what type of game they're going to bring, and they respect us because they know what type of game we're going to bring. So here we go again, one of those classic battles where everything is on the line.''

Even Ward didn't have much to say, except to complain that Ravens coach John Harbaugh gave him a tepid handshake and wouldn't look him in the eye when they crossed paths before the teams met in October.

Harbaugh laughed it off, saying, "I didn't know there was a barometer for the pre-game handshake. That's good to know. There's a meter, a scale. ... I'll just take it as constructive criticism. It's an opportunity to improve my pregame decorum and courteousness with players.''

That doesn't mean that the insults, and perhaps helmets, won't start flying once the teams hit the field. The physical nature of both teams is one reason why this rivalry is so intriguing - it isn't so much about long passes and big plays as it is about moving up the field one tough yard at a time.

"I've been a part of jawing and talking. I've never been a part of any illegal hits,'' Rice said. "I talk with my pads. A little words back and forth is not going to hurt nobody. But I have not been a part of somebody trying to go low on the knee or bend me up at the end of a pile. No, I haven't been a part of that, and I don't really want to be a part of it.''

With the exception of the 2008 AFC title game, a 23-14 Pittsburgh victory, the last four games have been decided by four points or fewer - including Baltimore's 17-14 comeback win at Heinz Field two months ago.

There's no reason to believe this one will be any different.

"Just based on previous matchups, one could assume that there's a chance that this is going to be a close football game,'' Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.

In that 17-14 game, Joe Flacco hit T.J. Houshmandzadeh with an 18-yard touchdown pass in the final minute to lift the Ravens to victory. But the Steelers didn't have Roethlisberger, who was serving a suspension and watched the game in his living room.

Baltimore hasn't beaten Pittsburgh with Roethlisberger starting at quarterback since 2006.

"Well, there's no game better than this one to break that streak,'' said Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, who has 11 career sacks against the Steelers.

In that first game, Baltimore was forced to play without safety Ed Reed, who was on the physically unable to perform list while recovering from offseason hip surgery. Reed made his season debut on Oct. 24 and has four interceptions in five games.

"Now that everybody has everybody,'' Lewis said, "let's see how it goes down.''

The Ravens are vying for their franchise-record ninth straight home win. Pittsburgh has won in Baltimore only once since 2002.

"Our fans are going to be crazy,'' Lewis said. "It's one of those games that you have to be a part of, that you want to be a part of. When your legacy is done, you look back at these games right here.''

Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/201...#ixzz16zsYa0rc
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Old 12-02-2010, 06:53 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers, Ravens clash in first-place showdown

theres a lot of respect and hate at the same time from both sides
good read
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Old 12-02-2010, 07:20 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers, Ravens clash in first-place showdown

Even if the Ravens lost (which I don't think will happen) they could still win the division.
If the Steelers lose their goose is cooked. They would have to fight for a wild card and road playoff games.
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Old 12-03-2010, 11:52 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers, Ravens clash in first-place showdown

I love the stats going into this game... could Baltimore and Pittsburgh be any closer, in terms of raw numbers?

Pittsburgh 8-3-0 2nd AFC North 254 181 5-1-0 Road 6-2-0 2-1-0 2-1-0 Won 2
Baltimore 8-3-0 1st AFC North 250 188 5-0-0 Home6-2-0 2-1-0 2-1-0 Won 2

The Ravens are one of those teams I love to hate - simply because they play like we do. Of course, the Steelers are better but I can't blame the Ravens for wanting to be exactly like the best team in their division (and all of the NFL).
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