Have you ever heard the reason you don't get along with another individual is because you and your foe are too much alike? Well that about sums up the Baltimore-Pittsburgh rivalry. These two cities couldn't be any more alike.
Pittsburgh and Baltimore are both cities that sit on the water, rose to economic prominence through the industrial age, almost died with its decline. Each utilized the waterfront to revitalize downtown, adding tourism as a measure of replacement for the loss of industrial income.
Part of the revival in both cities rebuilding process was the building of two new stadiums in each city. The Ravens, Orioles, Steelers and Pirates all moved into new stadiums during this rebuilding period.
Pittsburgh and Baltimore have a storied and historic football past, both well documented. The Steelers of the 70's and The Baltimore Colts of the 50's, 60's and 70's have contributed numerous Hall of Fame players and both organizations had a big hand in making the NFL what it has become today.
Today’s version of the Steelers and Ravens are almost identical in their build. Both were built on stout defenses that feature All-Pro linebackers and all-world safeties. Both now have a quarterback from a small school that has come into the league and surprised everyone with their play.
This rivalry, as stated in the headline, runs deeper than just Ravens-Steelers. Baseball played a major role in building this rivalry. The Pirates handed the Orioles two of their three World Series losses.
In 1971 Roberto Clemente led the Pirates back from a 2-0 deficit to win in seven games. In 1979, Willie Stargell, Dave Parker and the rest of the "We Are Family" gang overcame a 3-1 deficit. Pittsburgh won the last two games in Baltimore's Memorial Stadium and finished the O's in seven games again.
Deeper yet is the involvement of another city and another sport. Baltimore has never had an NHL team so the Washington Capitals have been claimed by many in the area as the team of choice. The scars from that choice run deep.
Even the NHL and HBO agree with me. Beginning on December 15th, HBO will feature the Penguins and Capitals in their 24/7 series leading up to this years Winter Classic at Heinz Field.
Baltimore did have a minor league hockey team for many years, The Baltimore Skipjacks of the American Hockey League. We served as the top affiliate for you guessed it, the Pittsburgh Penguins and then, that's right, the Washington Capitals.
Many players that went on to good and some great NHL careers came through Baltimore via both organizations.
Both cities even have distinct ways of speaking with hard dialects about their teams. "How 'bout dem O's hon" and "Yins watch the Stiller’s daday" are commonly heard around town during their respective seasons.
Growing up in "Ballmer" I know what a rivalry is and if the players refuse to use the word hate at times, I won't. I hate Pittsburgh and the fact that we haven't had a lot of success against any of their teams fuels my fire.
Making this rivalry even more heated is the fact that many from Pittsburgh migrated to Baltimore during the industrial downturn. Looking on the web there are still six Steelers fan club bars in Maryland.
Sunday's matchup with the Steelers is no different than any other. It's life or death for me, and many in Baltimore and Pittsburgh as well. I live in Florida now and see the black and gold everywhere. I guess six Super Bowls will do that for a band wagon.
There have been hundreds of memorable moments but here are my top ten moments in the Baltimore- Pittsburgh rivalry, with a little Caps-Pens thrown in to top it off. No bias here, I promise.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had just defeated the upstart Baltimore Colts in this 1976 AFC divisional playoff game. Thank goodness this one wasn't close. Following the 40-14 defeat, Donald Kroner crashed his small plane into Sections 1 and 2 of the upper deck at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium.
The game had just ended and because of the blow out, much of the stadium had cleared out. Kroner was arrested and charged, he would spend three years in prison for his stunt
On a cold, rainy Sunday, the 3-9 Ravens would earn the franchise's first ever victory over the playoff-bound Steelers. Vinny Testaverde and Bam Morris would lead the way offensively as the Ravens would score 17 second-quarter points en route to a decisive 31-17 victory.
Future Hall of Fame offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden would score his first NFL touchdown on a pass from Testaverde during a tackle eligible play. Following this victory the Ravens would lose five straight to the Steelers.
The Great 8 and Sid The Kid each scored their first career playoff hat tricks in this Game Two thriller of Eastern Conference quarter finals. Sydney Crosby would score first but Alex Ovechkin would laugh last on this night. The Capitals would hold off Crosby and the Pens to win 4-3 and take a 2-0 lead in the series.
Ovechkin may have won the war but Crosby won the battle, The Penguins, for the sixth time in seven tries, eliminated the Capitals in postseason play. This would be the fourth time the Pens would come back from at least a 2-0 series deficit to eliminate Washington in the playoffs.
To make matters worse for us Caps fans, Crosby and the Penguins would go on to win the Stanley Cup for the third time in franchise history.
Chuck Knoll would bring a struggling 4-3 Steelers team into Memorial Stadium to face the two-time AFC East division champion and 6-1 Baltimore Colts. The Colts would capitalize on five Terry Bradshaw interceptions to win 31-21, the Colts first win over Pittsburgh in almost six years to the day.
Lydell Mitchell and Ronnie Lee would combine to run for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Bert Jones would go 10 for 20 with 170 yards, but two of those completions were for touchdowns. The Steelers out-gained the Colts on this day, but the interceptions proved to be to costly.
With a Cleveland Browns win over Cincinnati earlier in the day, most of the drama had been removed from this one by kick-off Sunday night. The Bengal loss locked up the Ravens first division title in franchise history.
With the division in hand only one question remained, could the 6-9 Steelers stop Jamal Lewis from breaking Eric Dickerson's all-time single season NFL rushing record of 2105 yards? The Steelers had promised that regardless of their record, Lewis would not be allowed to get to the 2000 yard mark, much less Dickerson's record.
Lewis would break the 2000 yard milestone, rushing for 114 yards, but he would fall 39 yards short of Dickerson's record. The Ravens would win the game 13-10 on a Matt Stover overtime field goal.
Petr Nedved scored the game tying and game winning goal in the four OT epic
The Washington Capitals playoff heartbreak would continue on this night. The Capitals would start off with all the luck, but like most Capitals playoff games it wouldn't end that way. The Capitals were seemingly in control in this one. The Penguins were working on "Murphy's Law" throughout regulation—everything that could go wrong, did.
They lost starting goalie Tom Barrasso early in the contest with back spasms, the great Mario Lemieux was ejected in the second period for instigating a fight, but Washington could not capitalize.
Nedved scored a goal late in the third period to tie the game at 2-2, and almost four hours later won it in the fourth overtime. It was nearly 2:00 a.m. when Nedved scored the power play goal that tied the series at two games apiece. The Penguins wouldn't lose again in the series, disposing of Washington in six games.
The Ravens postseason came to a thundering halt in a 27-10 loss to the Steelers in the 2001 AFC Divisional round. The 17-point loss was the largest playoff loss by any defending Super Bowl champion in eighteen years.
Elvis Grbac threw three interceptions while the Ravens offense could muster just 150 total yards, their lowest output of the year. The Ravens managed to cut the lead to 10 in the third quarter on a Jermaine Lewis 88 yard punt return touchdown but Kordell Stewart found Plaxico Buress on a 32-yard touchdown pass to finish off the defending champs.
Elvis Grbac never played another snap in the NFL following this game.
1971 would be the third consecutive World Series appearance for Earl Weaver and his Baltimore Orioles. They had split their two previous appearances, losing to the Miracle Mets in 1969 and beating Johnny Bench and the Reds in 1970.
The star of this series would be Roberto Clemente and his .414 series batting average. Clemente's Pirates would drop the first two games in Baltimore before winning three straight to take a 3-2 series lead. The O's would win Game Six and lose the seventh and deciding game in Baltimore.
Clemente would hit a fourth inning Game Seven homer run off of Mike Cuellar as the Pirates would hold on to win the game 2-1 and the series 4-3.
This series featured the first night game in the history of the World Series. Game Four in Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium was the first ever Fall Classic game played under the lights. A 4-3 Pittsburgh win.
In a season of dominance the 13-3 Ravens swept the season series from the Steelers for the first time in franchise history. In November, a 27-0 home shutout win was followed up by a 31-7 thrashing of Pittsburgh in the Steel city on Christmas Eve.
Ben Roethlisberger was sacked 14 times, while only passing for 370 yards in two games. Roethlisberger was intercepted four times and only threw one touchdown pass combined in both contests. According to the Baltimore Sun, the Ravens defense hit Big Ben on 41 percent of his passes in the November contest.
The Ravens earned a first round bye with such a dominate season but lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts in a field goal fest in the AFC Divisional round.
The Orioles lost Game One, but would storm back to win the next three. The Pirates would win Game Five, but still seemed like a long shot to come all the way back. Games Six and Seven were back at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium.
The Pirates latched onto the popular Sister Sledge song, "We Are Family," and rode it to a stunning come-from-behind seven game series win. Oriole’s bats fell asleep and Pittsburgh won Games Six and Seven by a combined score of 8-1, shutting the Orioles out in Game Six, 4-0.
Willie Stargell was named series MVP, batting .400 with three home runs and seven RBI's. Oriole’s superstar Eddie Murray batted just .154 with four hits in 26 at bats.