5 Reasons Ravens Vs. Steelers Is The Fiercest Rivalry In Sports
Ravens Vs. Steelers. It is the rivalry of all rivalries.
The Baltimore Ravens rivalry with the Pittsburgh Steelers is the most emotional and tense rivalry in all of sports. It’s like a nerve that constantly gets pinched. It’s a feeling deep down in the gut. Ravens and Steelers fans can get along, but it will never happen on an NFL Sunday. It’s must watch television. Mondays after a Ravens loss are brutal. After a loss to the Steelers though, every day of the week is an agonizing Monday. Beating the Steelers makes the entire week seem like a lightning bolt of smiles. The purple and black always get up for games against the Steelers. So does the flock.
Today I’m going to tell you about the depth of this rivalry. I’m going to tell you why these two teams don’t get along and why this contemptuous relationship was inevitable. From the rivalry between Terrell Suggs and Ben Roethlisberger, to they dynamics between Joe Flacco and Troy Polamalu, this rivalry has been on a long road with very little love.
There are five reasons the Ravens and the Steelers rivalry is the best rivalry in all of professional sports.
Reason 1: It’s Fresh
This is a rivalry that is still in the early stages of it’s fester. In relation to the other great rivalries in sports the flame for this one was just lit. The Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees have been battling for what seems like forever. The Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears have been at it since the early days of professional football. These rivalries are relevant when both of the teams are good. However they take a back stage when one of the teams is having an uneventful season. With the Ravens and the Steelers, the wounds barely have a scab over them.
The Ravens came into being when the Cleveland Browns relocated to Baltimore in 1996. The Ravens became a brand new team, with a new name and a new brand. In the early days of Ravens football, the Tennessee Titans were the Ravens biggest rivals. Steve McNair and Eddie George were always in the way, and it was up to Ray Lewis and company to clear the path for Baltimore. Ravens Vs. Steelers heated up when the AFC Central became the AFC North and the Titans were sent to the AFC South. That didn’t happen until 2002.
The Ravens and the Steelers were now the two most competitive teams in the new AFC North. A natural rivalry began as both teams had success. When John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco got to Baltimore, the rivalry ignited into it’s biggest flame. The Ravens went to the playoffs five straight years. The Steelers were also a perennial playoff team. These two teams are constantly battling for the same thing. The AFC North crown.
Reason 2: Proximity
Baltimore and Pittsburgh are not exactly far away. The Pittsburgh Steelers have one of the largest fan bases in all of sports. These two facts mean that Maryland is a constant battleground for these fan bases. These fan bases interact on a regular basis. Sometimes it is civil, sometimes it is nasty. One thing is for sure, getting away from the rivalry is almost impossible.
For a rivalry to really matter, the fans have to care. When the Ravens and the Steelers do battle, bragging rights are on the line. If you’re a Ravens fan, the chances of having a Steelers fan in your family or at your work is high. When the Ravens lost to the Oakland Raiders they got to sulk on Monday without their guard up. If the Ravens lose to the Steelers, fans clad in yellow and black are going to let you know about it.
This rivalry is present 365 days of the year. It never goes away. Whether you wear purple and black or yellow and black, this rivalry is personal. There is just no way of getting around it. The proximity makes this rivalry heated.
Reason 3: Close Games
The Ravens are no stranger to close games; this is especially true against the Steelers. When these two teams do battle, it almost always comes down to a field goal. They have had 15 games decided by three points or less. Every positive play is elevated. Every negative play’s impact is sharpened. When Baltimore plays their arch enemy, any play can change the game. There is a desperation to win this game. Beating division foes is important in the pursuit of a playoff spot, however a win means more when it comes against Pittsburgh.
Close games against heated rivals is a formula for dramatic football games. Who can forget Joe Flacco’s 92 yard drive against the Steelers in 2011? The controversial Santonio Holmes touchdown in 2008 gave the Steelers home field advantage in the playoffs. These memories stick out. This is a game that has a chance to be a classic every time.
More than anything the close games add to the emotions of this rivalry. When the Steelers had the upper hand, it felt like Ben Roethlisberger always managed to sneak out with the victory. Pittsburgh beat the Ravens three times in a row in 2008. They won six of the eight match ups from 2008-2010. Each loss seemed more brutal then the next. Since 2011 the purple and black have won eight of the last 11 games. They have had two three game winning streaks in that magnificent stretch. For Ravens fans, these wins mean more than anything.
Reason 4: A Chip On Our Shoulder
The Ravens don’t like hearing about the greatness of their rivals. They never bowed down to the New England Patriots and they never kissed the Steelers rings. Over an over, we have to hear that the Steelers have more Super Bowl wins than any team in the NFL. Nobody seems to mention that since the Ravens inception into the league Baltimore and Pittsburgh have both won two Super Bowls. The Steelers always get praise for their rich history. The Ravens cannot compete with that history, so there is a chip on their shoulders.
Every rivalry has a reigning top dog. Right now the Baltimore has the power in this rivalry. They have won three games in a row against the Steelers.
Baltimore has a bit of an inferiority complex with the Steelers. We can admit it. The Ravens have always reveled in the “Us against the World” mantra. This was true when Brian Billick was the coach and nothing has really changed. The Ravens have to prove that they’re the top dog. They desperately wants to prove this. Baltimore has been just as successful as Pittsburgh. The Ravens have been a great franchise. In 1996 the Ravens were born. It’s 2016 we have won two Lombardi Trophies. The Ravens have a chip on their shoulder and it is especially true when they play the Steelers.
Reason 5: Records Don’t Matter
The Steelers went to the playoffs last year. In fact, they almost beat the Denver Broncos (who went on to win it all). The Ravens were 5-11 last season. It was the first losing season under John Harbaugh. When the 2015 played the Steelers they were supposed to get their butts kicked. Instead the Ravens swept the Steelers. Yes, the worst Ravens team ever swept a playoff bound Steelers team.
That is a sign of a great rivalry. When the records of the teams don’t matter, the rivalry is fierce beyond belief. In these games anything can happen. Let’s be honest, rivalries depend on both teams to be competitive. Right before Jim Harbaugh got to Ann Arbor, Michigan vs. Ohio State wasn’t that big of a deal. Now it’s back on top of the College Football landscape. Ravens Vs. Steelers never stopped being a big deal even when Baltimore was in a horrible season.
The moral of the story here is that the Ravens and the Steelers have the most meaningful rivalry in all of sports. It may not even be close. These teams are the most bitter of rivals.