When Coach Mike Tomlin said “It’s Ravens’ week for us,” during his press conference on Tuesday, his players easily understood what he meant. In other words, on Sunday night be ready for a battle at Heinz Field.
“It’s going to be a backyard brawl,” said guard Willie Colon. “That is the nature of the game. We are both the bullies of the block when it comes to this division. We are both fighting for the big picture. It’s going to be a good one.
“It’s an old-fashioned backyard brawl. Both teams are like neighbors, we know what is going on in each other’s house. It’s one of those things where we have to flat out play. There aren’t going to be any secrets, nobody is going to be creeping up on each other. It’s just going to be roll out the ball and be ready to go.”
The Ravens, 7-2, hold a one-game lead over the Steelers, 6-3, in the AFC North, with the Ravens 3-0 in division play and the Steelers 1-0. There is a lot on the line and one thing is certain, it will be a physical battle to the bitter end.
“You have to strap on your pads,” said guard Ramon Foster. “It’s going to be a hard-hitting, physical game. It gets very physical. You don’t want to lose that battle between the offensive and defensive line. We have to try and dominate the best we can. You have to be prepared to deliver the shot to them.”
This isn’t a game for the faint of heart. Don’t expect any pleasantries to be exchanged, any smiles. There is nothing like that when these two teams go at it.
“It’s a divisional rivalry,” said cornerback Ike Taylor. “It’s an understanding. They don’t like us, we don’t like them. They have been successful as a franchise and we have been successful as a franchise. You are talking about two successful defenses year in and year out. You are talking about Pittsburgh, you are talking about Baltimore. It’s a clear understanding of the dislike between both teams.”
Running back Isaac Redman was even a bit blunter than Taylor.
“We hate them. That’s pretty much it,” said Redman. “There is no love loss. We don’t like them at all and when the game comes you can tell by the play, the emotions on the field. There is going to be a lot of hitting, a lot of trash talking. It’s Steelers vs. Ravens.”
This week will also be about protecting the home turf for the Steelers, who are 4-0 at Heinz Field this year, something they take great pride in.
“We like winning at home,” said defensive end Brett Keisel. “We expect our crowd to be a big factor in this game, give us some noise out there and hopefully we will come away with a win.
“People know what is at stake. It’s one of those games each team understands they need to have in order to win the division, in order to get where they want to get. You have to win these types of games. We are ready to lay it all out on the line to get a win.”
Last year the Ravens beat the Steelers in both meetings, handing the Steelers their only home loss when Joe Flacco engineered a 92-yard drive for a 23-20 win in the closing seconds.
“You always want to defend your home turf,” said Taylor. “They did what they had to do to win. It’s hard losing to anyone. It’s hard losing at home. It’s like someone breaking in your house.”