By Teresa Varley
There will be a lot on the line for both the Steelers and Ravens when the two teams meet up on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. A win could clinch the AFC North title for the Steelers, while a loss would keep the Ravens in the hunt for a playoff spot and potential division title.
None of that is lost on the Steelers players as they prepare to take on a team that has become a huge rivalry for them.
"The Ravens are the Ravens," said cornerback Ike Taylor. "There are no ands, ifs or buts about it. We don't like each other, they don't like us and we don't like them. It's a divisional game. What more can you ask for?"
The Steelers take a 10-3 record into the game, while the Ravens are 9-4, but none of that will matter when they take the field at 4:15 on Sunday.
"You know what type of game it's going to be no matter what the record," said cornerback Deshea Townsend. "You can throw that out the window. It's going to be a physical, close game.
"It is mutual respect, but there is also dislike. It's nothing outside of football, but on the field you want to go out and beat those guys. I am sure all of the guys on our side will do what ever it takes to win."
The Steelers did defeat the Ravens 23-20 in overtime at Heinz Field, but that was back in September and both teams have changed since then.
"Whenever we play them it's an intense ball game," said cornerback Bryant McFadden. "We are both fighting for something now. We both have successful records and are trying to finish the season up strong. It hypes the intensity up a whole lot. It's going to be an exciting ball game to watch and be a part of."
The game should be a classic defensive battle as the Steelers are ranked number one overall in the NFL in total defense, while the Ravens are ranked second. Townsend just wants to make sure that it's the Steelers defense that prevails.
"You hate to look across the way and see the other defense playing better than you," said Townsend. "We always worry about us, but when you see another defense playing well you want to match it. You want to play better than them or at least match it."
And they will need to do that. The Steelers have lost the last five games in Baltimore and are hoping that this time around things will be different.
"The atmosphere is great there," said Townsend. "They have great fans. It's tough to play on the road. It's about getting the crowd out early, but their defense keeps them in so many games and when you are at home it can push you over the top. We have to play for 60 minutes and pull this thing out."