Even without names like Ray Lewis, Joey Porter, Ed Reed and Hines Ward, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens rivalry is alive and well. The disdain these two teams have shared for each other for more than a decade has crept into their respective fan bases. For the Ravens' part, they love being hated by Steeler Nation.
"Folks [are] just looking at us like, 'Man, I hope you just bomb it tomorrow," wide receiver Torrey Smith told Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. "It's a serious environment. That's why you're here, to play a team like Pittsburgh up there, a crowd that hates you, really a city that truly hates you."
Smith isn't alone in his depiction of how the Ravens players are treated when they travel to Heinz Field for their yearly meet-and-greet with Steelers fans. The most notorious member of the current Ravens team, Terrell Suggs, sees the venom from the fans as a sign of respect.
"I love it because they put so much energy into hating you," "You obviously are doing something [right], so it's kind of flattering. I take it as a sign of respect."
No matter how the players feel about the fans, or fans feel about the players, what really matters is the product on the football field. To the fans, 'Ravens Week' isn't just another game on the schedule but, as Smith points out, it's really just another football game to the players.
"At the end of the day when you get on the field, it's football. It's a great, disciplined, physical football team. And we know we have to play physical ball to go out there and beat them. It's going to be tough. And they're hot right now, too."
The game Sunday night will have huge implications within the division, with the winner likely keeping pace with the Cincinnati Bengals but the loser possibly dropping behind the Cleveland Browns into last place in the very competitive AFC North.
Regardless of which side of the fence you're rooting from, when it comes to the Steelers vs. Ravens rivalry there's no love lost between these two teams and their fans.