The Ravens-Steelers rivalry is arguably the nastiest in all of sports. What happens when you throw the irresistible force that is Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward and the immovable object that is Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis onto the same field ? Breathtaking hits, some of them late. It is not the longest rivalry in the history of the NFL, but it is the most intense.
"Every block, every tackle -- none of them are done casually," said Steelers radio broadcaster Tunch Ilkin, who played in Pittsburgh from 1980 to 1992. "They're all done with full intensity and malicious intent. If you have a chance to rub a guy's face in the dirt on a tackle, you do. If you can put a knee in a guy's back to help yourself get up, you do it."
This season, appropriately, the Ravens and Steelers have the league's top-ranked defenses in terms of points and yards allowed. The Steelers lead the series 17-10 -- including a divisional-round playoff victory at the end of the 2001 season -- and won both previous games this season, one in overtime, by a total of seven points.
The Ravens, though, have had their moments. In 2006, they won both games and sacked quarterback Ben Roethlisberger 16 times. One of them was a brutal shot by Ravens linebacker Bart Scott. "That's the cleanest tackle I've had in my life," Scott said later. "It felt good to hear the air leave his body."
That's the kind of game it's going to be !