Raiders-Steelers rivalry resumes
By Alan Robinson
Associated PressPITTSBURGH ó The Raiders-Steelers rivalry was so filled with enmity and emotion, hatred and hostility during the 1970s that a football field couldn’t hold it.
About all that’s missing from the NFL’s newest and nastiest rivalry, the Baltimore Ravens against the Pittsburgh Steelers, is a player suing the opposing coach in federal court for labeling him part of football’s criminal element, as Oakland’s George Atkinson once did former Steelers coach Chuck Noll.
That Pittsburgh and Baltimore are playing Sunday for the AFC championship, barely a month since they last met, is only ratcheting up the hard feelings. So far, the talk has been respectful between teams that are eerily alike in personality and performance but, at least in Pittsburgh, expectations are the bad mouthing has only begun.
Wait until Sunday night, and the back-and-forth exchanges between the Ravens and Steelers will be real, will be ugly and won’t be suitable for showing on Nickelodeon.
“I knew this was a big rivalry when I came into the league (in 2001), and I remember Ray Lewis and Jerome Bettis really getting after it, talking trash, hitting each other,” Steelers defensive lineman Chris Hoke said. “It was unbelievable, some of the talking and some of the hits.”
This is the fifth Ravens-Steelers game in 15 months, and familiarly breeds contempt between teams that have won six of the last seven AFC North titles.”It’s not like we’re going to go outside the stadium and fight each other,” Steelers receiver Hines Ward said. “But it’s genuine hate when we go out and play each other. There’s no helping each other up, and there’s going to be a lot of talking.”
It wouldn’t be Ravens vs. Steelers if there wasn’t.”It never gets old,” Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith said. “I’d play them every other week if they’d let us.”