Ravens vs. Steelers aren’t as painful as they used to be, but veterans know they’ll be in a brawl – Reading Eagle

Don “Wink” Martindale was breathtaking and pretending to be an imminent trip to Pittsburgh in the Ravens was the NFL’s day-to-day business.

The team’s defensive coordinator told linebacker Tias Bowser to play twice a year because he values ​​the crackling atmosphere of Heinz Field. Facing the Steelers is Martindale’s 58-year-old bone elixir.

“Young people will know about it,” he said. “I told them,’If you want to be known in this city, fight Pittsburgh well.'”

As Ravens enters the final six weeks of the season, all games are looming and sticking to AFC’s No. 1 seed and AFC North perch. But veteran members of the organization say Steelers Week is a different thing, even if the game isn’t as painful as it once was.

The Ravens-Steelers are one of the NFL’s most exciting rivals and an abbreviation for cheeky and penalized football among perennial candidates. Since the creation of AFC North in 2002, the team has joined to win 15 of the 19 division titles. Only once in those 19 seasons — hello 2013, when both were 8-8 — neither played off.

Each year, veteran Ravens are asked what to tell their young teammates about the nature of confronting the Steelers. Every year, the answer applies to familiar notes.

“I would tell them,’It’s going to be a brawl,'” said Bowser, who definitely heard the same when he was a rookie in 2017.

At the same time, it’s natural to wonder if rivalry is over. Imagine you’re stalking a Ravens teambus in search of a fight, as Joey Porter did in 2003 when Steeler wanted Ray Lewis’s work. One of the teams said, “Coaches hate each other. Players hate each other, as Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward once did.

Adjacent to madness, such a vitriol feels like a relic of the Ravens Steelers’ past. Most of the players involved in the blood battle have retired. Those who remain, like the Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, are in their twilight.

Since the 2018 season, the team has not played in golden time. Their last meeting — a reserve at Heinz Field in the sky on Wednesday afternoon / with 16 Ravens on the COVID-19 list — is a stranger expression of the NFL’s pandemic era than the classic chapter of rivalry. It stood out as.

With the rise of the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns at the forefront of AFC, there is no guarantee that the Ravens and Steelers will remain at the top of the division. Steelers are thinking about life after 39-year-old Roethlisberger in a draw with the detroit Lions, who lost two in the last three games in 5-5-1, and could head for a reset. I have. Ravens opened this week as a 3.5-point favorite for the first time in Pittsburgh when he played against Roethlisberger in a quarterback.

Will the day come when the Steelers will be another divisional opponent of Ravens?

Not so fast, officials say.

“This week is another stride, another wave we’re trying to ride,” said Brandon Williams’ middleguard, who had 6-6 in his regular season career with the Steelers.

He recalled that the famous Roethlisberger torturer Terrell Suggs advised that “this game will almost prove if you are a Raven.”

Full-back Patrick Ricard grinned and remembered that Pittsburgh fans had cursed his wife on the stand. “Rivalry is real. It’s not just a regular NFL game,” he said. “It’s always the most physical game of the year.”

“If you’re a football fan, you need to know about it,” Roethlisberger told reporters in Pittsburgh.

Ravens players seemed eager to return to the packed Heinz Field after a strange visit infected with COVID in 2020.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson, who didn’t play in Pittsburgh last season, said, “I know it’s going to be as loud as ever.” “Some of our fans know they’re going there. I know” Flock Nation “is coming to Heinz Field, but they hear noise, hear the atmosphere, smell and feel. I can’t wait. “

“Except for us, it’s probably the best in the NFL,” Bowser said when asked about Steelers fans. “But I like playing in Pittsburgh. The aforementioned” wink “coach [that] If he could play two games in Pittsburgh, he would, and I definitely believed in him. When I first went there, in the first year of the league, it was a crazy energy like no other, and just being there gives you that different type of energy. “

After spending six years on the side of the rival Steelers, Alejandro Villanueva returns to her home stadium in unfamiliar colors. The soft tone of the left tackle never oversells the emotions of the match. He provided the Ravens Steelers with a unique perspective.

“I’m from a country where there is a true rivalry between the two giants Real Madrid and Barcelona,” said the sons of two Spanish parents. “It’s a competition to tear the country. It’s two good teams that happen to play each other from the towns they work in, usually in the cold, twice a year.”

“Unfortunately, we can’t offer any more hype to our rivals,” he laughed.

Nevertheless, he pointed out that it is very rare for two NFL teams to meet frequently without changing the leader of the bystander. Mike Tomlin and John Harbaugh are ranked 3rd and 4th on the list of longest-serving NFL coaches, respectively. These people have met each other more often than many of us have met close families over the last 13 years.

“It was a great experience for me to see the two cultures,” said Villanueva. “Obviously, I spent more time with Tomlin. He’s like a father to me. I’ve always listened to him, so I miss talking like him, And he’s a great speaker, and I talk to my kids and sound like Tomlin’s coach, but now how Harbaugh opposes the Steelers and their culture, in AFC and AFC North. It’s really interesting to see if we continue to be a very good team. “

If the rivalry is defined by a decorated middle-aged coach rather than a field provocateur like Lewis or Ward, it probably explains why the temperature has dropped.

“We have a great relationship,” Harbaugh said. “I have a great deal of respect for Tomlin and the entire organization beyond.”

No one in Pittsburgh could hit it on the bulletin board.

Tomlin said he was involved in too many intense, nervous meetings with Ravens and couldn’t take the match for granted. The Steelers won both meetings last season with a total of 9 points.

“I think how the game evolved and the importance of the game over the years has become as it was now and in the past,” Tomlin said. “I don’t think what’s happening around us will reduce that at all. It’s the positioning of the two teams involved, what they’re willing to do to pursue victory, the intensity of the game, And I think it’s how close the game has been over the years. “

13th week


Sunday, 4:25 pm

TV set: Chs. 13, 9 wireless: 105.7 FM

line: 4½ Raven

Ravens vs. Steelers aren’t as painful as they used to be, but veterans know they’ll be in a brawl – Reading Eagle

Source link Ravens vs. Steelers aren’t as painful as they used to be, but veterans know they’ll be in a brawl – Reading Eagle

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