Wallace sees Ravens-Steelers rivalry from the other side
FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2016, file photo, Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Mike Wallace rushes the ball in the first half of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders, in Baltimore. As a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mike Wallace grew to despise the Baltimore Ravens. For the first time Sunday, the veteran receiver will participate in this contentious NFL rivalry with the other side. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) Mike Wallace was recalling the damage he inflicted on the Ravens as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers when Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs walked within earshot.
''They kept me out of the end zone pretty good,'' Wallace said. ''But they couldn't stop me from getting a lot of yards.''
''Whoa! Whoa!'' Suggs shouted, lurching toward the veteran wide receiver.
Article continues below ...
''I didn't know you were there, Sizz,'' Wallace said with a laugh. ''We're on the same side now. We're wearing the purple, baby. Ravens!''
Wallace played in eight games against Baltimore for Pittsburgh from 2009-2012, making 31 catches for 426 yards and a touchdown. More than a few of those receptions came in the vicinity of Suggs, who's been part of this rivalry since 2003.
Come Sunday, Wallace will see things from the Baltimore point of view for the first time.
It's almost as if one of the Hatfield clan left to join the McCoys.
''Being on this side is little weird, but it's fun,'' Wallace said. ''You want to be a part of it no matter what side you're on.''
Longtime rivals in the AFC North, Pittsburgh (4-3) and Baltimore (3-4) have long been among the top teams in the NFL. Although both teams are struggling this season – the Steelers have lost two in a row and the Ravens have dropped four straight – first place in the division is on the line Sunday.
Just as important, the winner will hold bragging rights until the rematch on Christmas Day.
No matter if you're wearing purple or black and gold, emotion for Steelers-Ravens always runs high.
''You're going to respect each other because it's two great organizations, two great football teams going up against each other,'' Wallace said. ''It's a battle for the division. It's going to bring a lot of hate. Respect, but a lot of hate. No love.''
After spending his first four NFL seasons with Pittsburgh, Wallace played with Miami in 2013-14 before scoring just two touchdowns for Minnesota last year. Eager to revive a career on the downswing, he signed with the Ravens as a free agent in March.
The 30-year-old has been a huge asset. Wallace ranks second on the team with 35 catches and leads Baltimore with 490 yards receiving and three TD receptions.
''Mike's playing really well,'' coach John Harbaugh said. ''Great attitude and work ethic.''
Wallace scored 32 touchdowns over four exceptional seasons with the Steelers, and Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin is happy to see him maintain a high level of play.
''He's still running by folks and ringing up the scoreboard. We've got a great deal of respect for what he's capable of,'' Tomlin said. ''But more important than that, we're proud of his success and what he's been able to do in his career. We take a great deal of pride that it started here for him.''
Even though he's now a Raven, Wallace just can't bring himself to despise the Steelers.
''I don't know if I could ever hate them because of all the stuff I've been through in that organization,'' Wallace said. ''But I'm definitely on this side to win. When we line up Sunday, none of those guys are going to be my friend.''
Suggs, meanwhile, intends to play despite tearing his left biceps on Oct. 16. He also expects to chasing Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is day-to-day after undergoing knee surgery just over two weeks ago.
''Do not fall for that,'' Suggs said. ''I am telling my boys that No. 7 is playing.''
Ravens offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot) and guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) practiced Wednesday and expect to play Sunday. The status of wide receiver Steve Smith (ankle) remains uncertain.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL