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Courtney Upshaw becoming a thorn in Steelers' side

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Is there a new "most disliked Raven" in Pittsburgh? While Terrell Suggs has carried that moniker for quite some time, fellow linebacker Courtney Upshaw is giving Suggs a run for his money after a few questionable hits on Ben Roethlisberger in 2014.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

There are a few guidelines Steelers fans follow in regards to not liking certain NFL players.

If you play for the Ravens, you are guilty by association. If you're a Raven and act like Terrell Suggs, you have no chance.

Enter fourth year linebacker Courtney Upshaw, who, despite failing to record a sack in his first three years in the NFL, has done enough to challenge Suggs' place as the most disliked Raven among Steelers fans.

Three times last season, once in each game against the Ravens last season, Upshaw delivered big hits on Ben Roethlisberger, with two of his three hits warranting 15-yard penalties and one resulting in a fine by the NFL.

The first hit, levied on Big Ben in the first minute of the Ravens win over Pittsburgh in Week 2, involved Upshaw using the crown of his helmet, resulting in a 15-yard penalty and the fine.

"I lost my breath instantly and remember hitting the ground thinking, 'Boy, that hurt a lot," Roethlisberger said in a quote from baltimoreravens.com.

Upshaw was anything but apologetic after using his helmet to hit Roethlisberger, boasting that the hit was the highlight of his career thus far.

"I would definitely rank that number one," Upshaw said. "I will say that probably my only free run at a quarterback like that. I had a chance to get a big hit, and I didn't pass up on it. We pride ourselves on being physical up front, and it started with that first play."

Suggs, easily one of the most disliked Ravens by Steelers fans, gave his approval of Upshaw's hit.

"I've never gotten him that good," Suggs said. "I (can) only think of one person that hit him that good besides Courtney was Bart (Scott, in 2006). Ben is a big guy. Even with him being that big, he doesn't get subject to hits like that too many times."

In Pittsburgh's 43-23 beat-down of Baltimore on November 2nd, Upshaw was flagged again for a hit on Roethlisberger. But Upshaw couldn't throw Big Ben off his game on this night, as Roethlisberger filled the sky with footballs to the tune of 340 passing yards and and his second consecutive six-touchdown game.

As we all know, the Ravens would get the last laugh in the AFC Wild Card Game. And it was Upshaw that helped knockout the Steelers with his hit-which was at least a legal hit this time- that knocked Big Ben out of three plays late in the contest. Perhaps still feeling the affects of the hit, Roethlisberger's first play back on the field resulted in an interception that sealed Baltimore's 30-17 win.

Upshaw has added even more zest to a rivalry that is considered the nastiest in pro football. While only time will tell whether or not Upshaw becomes a viable force to be reckoned with going forward, one thing that is almost certain is that Roethlisberger and the Steelers will face the Ravens with a vengeance in 2015 after seeing their most hated rival celebrate on their field last post season.