A true rivalry

Coach Mike Tomlin called the Steelers-Ravens rivalry the best in football during his weekly press conference.

Others agreed with him, including Ravens Coach John Harbaugh.

"I think it is," said Harbaugh during a conference call. "Maybe he and I are biased because we are in it all of the time, but I don't see a better one out there.  It's a great rivalry and it is an honor to be a part of it.'

When the teams go against each other on Sunday at Heinz Field, there will be no love lost. But before and afterward, there is plenty of respect.

"It's a lot of hate there on the field," said linebacker James Harrison. "On the field anything that is legal in between the white lines is all game. After that it's all respect. That's just how it is between any NFL teams. That's how it should be.

"I hate losing to them. I hate losing to anybody, but to them it's a lot worse."

The two teams play similar styles of football, know each other well and play in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL

"You have to respect them," said quarterback Charlie Batch. "That's why it gets so much attention. There have been a lot of great battles. The teams are built the same, defensively solid and big on running the football. You know what you are going to get."

Ravens running back Ray Rice didn't practice on Wednesday, sidelined with a knee injury, but the Steelers don't think for a minute that he won't play on Sunday.

"He's going to play," said linebacker James Harrison. "I don't expect him not to play. A knee contusion isn't going to stop him. It's the Steelers. You get geeked for that. You aren't going to let a little knee contusion stop you from playing."

The defense is preparing to face Rice knowing full well he wants to play in the game.

"He is a competitor. He is a gamer," said safety Ryan Clark. "We know Ray is going to play. He is a big part of the team. We are going to prepare as such."

Rice, who was injured against Cleveland, has 52 carries for 210 yards so far this season and stopping him is going to be a key for defense.

"We have to stay gap-sound and wrap him up," said Harrison. "He's short, but he is still strong. We have to stay gap-sound and be in the positions that we're supposed to be in and not be out of position.'

The Steelers ground game was in full effect last week, with 201 yards on the ground. The offensive line got some much deserved credit for the performance.

"They knew coming into the season we wanted to run the football more," said Batch of the offensive line. "They wanted to be more physical up front and they took that as a challenge. They put a lot of hard work into everything you are seeing now. It's not something you just see on Sunday, that you just show up. They are putting a lot of the leg work in during the course of the week, extra meeting time, staying on the field longer and you are seeing the results show up."

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