5 Reasons Steelers vs. Ravens Is the Best Rivalry in Football
In football today, there is no greater rivalry between two teams than the one that exists between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens. These matchups are always must-see television thanks to one of the most amplified rivalries in all of sports.
This is the football version of Yankees and Red Sox, just with a lot more violence. When these teams meet up, it's not just football. It's something like a war.
Here's five reasons that this rivalry is worth tuning in for on September 11th.
Violent Hits and Crushing Blows
Not only does this rivalry pit two of the best overall teams in football against each other, it also pits two of the best defenses in the league against each other.
Offense is always at a premium (more on that in a bit) and there is always a surplus of hits. Ray Lewis, James Harrison, Lamarr Woodley and Terrel Suggs all bring the house on every snap. They will each make at least one play in every game.
If you want to see a clinic on linebacker play, sack masters and vicious defense, this is the rivalry for you.
Low-Scoring Death Matches
This game lacks the offensive glitter of the Colts and Patriots, but not because of the talent on either offense. Instead, these games become wars of attrition that, regardless of play calls by the offensive coordinators, always come right down to the end.
Since Mike Tomlin took over the Steelers in 2007, only two matches have ended with a point differential greater than seven points. In fact, only five games in that span have ended with more than a field goal separating the two teams.
Also in that time, two of the games have gone to overtime, and the teams have played to the final gun almost every time.
Lots of teams talk trash on each other before a big game. The Steelers and Ravens raise it to new heights. These two teams have a ton of respect for each other, but they do not like each other.
The trash talking during the lead-up takes a back seat to what happens on the field. Last year, Ben Roethlisberger's nose was broken by one of the Ravens' defenders. James Harrison takes great pleasure giving Joe Flacco and his offense the business verbally and physically. Ray Lewis enjoys doing the same things to the Steelers.
This is a loud rivalry between two teams that couldn't be more alike. That's what makes it so much fun to watch.
More than the players, the two fanbases absolutely hate each other. The stories of what happens to opposing fans in each town ranges from the believable to the awful. I'm not saying that this behavior should be curtailed at all.
In fact, it's just one more reason to celebrate the rivalry. The fan interaction isn't usually violent. It's simply escalated from normal tones of rivalry between other franchises.
The Steelers fans and Ravens fans live for these games. You don't see that kind of passion every day or even with every rivalry. Some rivalries that used to be like this have cooled considerably.
History Goes a Long Way
The Steelers and Ravens have been bitter rivals since the Ravens played home games in Cleveland as the Browns. The bitter, historic rivalry was carefully packed and carried along with the team to Baltimore. It's gotten more intense there thanks to guys like Ray Lewis, Joey Porter, Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu.
These games have a longer lineage than a lot of people think, pitting two of the league's best and most consistent franchises against each other and featuring some of the game's greatest individual players.
There is no better rivalry in football and, if it continues at this rate, there may never be another like it again.