Suggs: Steelers, Ravens best teams in NFL
Ben Roethlisberger has won his past six starts against the Ravens, including one that sent the Steelers to the Super Bowl after the 2008 season.
But the Steelers' quarterback has also had his nose broken by the Ravens, and Baltimore is where he absorbed the worst beating of his career (nine sacks in a 2006 game).
It is not surprising then that Roethlisberger has a love-hate relationship with the Steelers' opponent in Saturday's AFC divisional playoff game.
"I hate playing these guys because they are so good, especially on defense," Roethlisberger said Tuesday. "As a competitor, I like playing against them because they are the best."
Apparently so are the Steelers.
Adding a little spice to the storylines that will precede a third meeting between the Ravens and Steelers this season, Terrell Suggs said the AFC North rivals are also the two best teams in the NFL.
And the Ravens' outspoken outside linebacker didn't stop there.
"Anyone will argue that the winner of this game will most likely go on to win the Super Bowl," Suggs said during a conference call with Pittsburgh reporters.
Amusement best characterized the reaction to Suggs' prediction in the Steelers' locker room.
"Clearly it's not for the Super Bowl," Steelers free safety Ryan Clark said. "I say all of the time I think those guys talk about (the rivalry) a little bit more than we do."
Suggs has done his share of talking since the Ravens advanced past the AFC wild-card round with a 30-7 win at Kansas City last Sunday.
He said after that game that Saturday's game at Heinz Field would be "Armageddon" because of the stakes involved and how physical the games are when the Ravens and Steelers collide.
"The biblical description of Armageddon is the end of the world. I'm hopeful that it doesn't take place on Saturday," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "I think we're all looking forward to the sun coming up on Sunday morning and I'm pretty sure it will."
One thing that Harbaugh tried to make sure doesn't come up again this week: His comment that he was glad Roethlisberger had his nose broken in the Steelers' 17-14 win at Baltimore on Dec. 5.
Roethlisberger took a shot to the face from Haloti Ngata — the Ravens' defensive tackle was fined $15,000 by the NFL for the hit — and Harbaugh was asked about it earlier this week.
"It was a response to a kind of humorous question and I was laughing and it was tongue in cheek, and I took the opportunity to praise him for how tough he is," Harbaugh said. "I go back a long way with Ben. I've known him since he was a sophomore in college. I've got tremendous respect for him, and he knows we try to be physical."
Both Harbaugh and Roethlisberger attended Miami (Ohio) University, and the latter said the broken nose comment was taken out of context.
"I know Coach Harbaugh," Roethlisberger said. "He's a Miami guy; us Miami guys stick together."
They won't Saturday.
And contrary to Suggs' prediction, the winner will have anything but a clear path to the Super Bowl title, especially if the heavily favored Patriots beat the Jets on Sunday.
When asked what he would say to those who suggest the winner of the Ravens-Steelers game won't have a chance the following weekend if they have to go to New England, Harrison said, "Kiss the back of my backside."
The four-time Pro Bowler did offer one prediction for Saturday.
"Whichever defense plays the best is the team that's going to win," Harrison said. "This is Baltimore versus Pittsburgh."