Steelers players say Ravens rivalry has more 'respect'
Six days after the Steelers faced one heated division rival, they play the other team in which tensions seem to most often simmer.
But while the hits could indeed be as hard during Sunday night's Steelers-Ravens game as they were two days ago when the Steelers and Bengals met, the Steelers say the overall tension between the players on the teams won't be nearly as palpable.
“There has always been a lot of respect from both organizations, from both sets of players,” linebacker Arthur Moats said of the Steelers and Ravens. “We are going to have a lot of big hits, but you never feel like it's with the malicious intent that you sometimes get when we play Cincinnati.
“With (the Ravens), they know us extremely well, we know them extremely well, we are going to compete to the bitter end… But there is always that respect level, and I feel like that's the difference between this rivalry and when we play Cincinnati.”
During the Steelers' 23-20 victory against the Bengals this past Monday night, nine personal foul flags were thrown, two players were eventually suspended for actions during it, five others were forced out of the game because of injury.
But Moats – one of the Steelers' most veteran players – said that it is the Ravens and not the Bengals are “definitely our biggest rival.”
“I feel like it's always been there, from Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, (Haloti) Ngata, (Terrell) Suggs,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “I think there's always been a – I don't want to say hatred because you want to beat that other guy – but it's two friends going at it on the playground. You battle it out and at the end of the day you shake hands and say, ‘Hey, looking forward to next year.' “
Roethlisberger said he has “no idea” why things aren't that way versus the Bengals.
“I mentioned it before the game we played Cincinnati to the production guys,” Roethlisberger said. “When you play Baltimore, you're going to get your head knocked off. They're going to knock your head off, you're going to try to knock theirs off – but you're going to help ‘em up and respect them and say, ‘Great job, let's go at it again.'
“It's kind of fun playing that kind of football game. It's not fun in the sense that your body hurts, but it's fun in the sense that there's a lot of respect between the two teams.”
The Steelers have won the past two against the Ravens to snap a four-game losing streak in the series. Last year on Christmas Day, the Steelers won in the final minute in a de facto AFC North championship game.
The Steelers have won six consecutive against the Bengals, including the postseason.