Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how much you hate the Pittsburgh Steelers until that Sunday comes every year when the team and their hideous fan base descend upon downtown Baltimore.
It’s one of those rare things in life for me, that I can’t even justify it or rationalize it or control it, that visceral feeling I get when I see anything black and gold with that ugly emblem on it.
So, today’s Moon might come across as mean-spirited, immature or petty, but I’m really not too concerned about it. I feel I’m entitled to rant and rave and boast like a flaming idiot Steelers fan this morning — just like that towel-waver in your office or family or neighborhood, who I’m sure has attempted to make like as miserable as possible since February, when the NFL gods and officials conspired to grant the black and gold a World Championship and screw Mike Holmgren and the Seahawks.
I could bore you with analysis or statistical breakdowns of yesterday’s 27-0 win at the purple palace, but you saw the game, right?
What is there to say about the actual game that you didn’t already see?
Look, I’ve been waiting at least 11 years — if not since the Donald Kroner plane crash back in 1976 during the Colts playoff game on 33rd Street — for a game and a day and a feeling like yesterday.
Maybe it was the “Baltimore is Steelers Country” plane that flew over our stadium yesterday morning while I walked through the parking lot that got my juices flowing. Or maybe it’s that band of morons in the southwest corner of the end zone who annually take over the front row and hang their little sign and wear their construction helmets in a style that would make the Village People crow with pride, waving their yellow snot rags. Or maybe it’s just the years of ignorant behavior by their toothless and insolent fan base — “yins from donton” — but the Pittsburgh Steelers and the thought of them and their fans, makes me want to gush a stream of black and gold vomit on a year-round basis.
My feelings have nothing to do with owning a radio station or doing sports radio or being in the “working” media. My disdain for the Steelers began on Bank Street more than 30 years ago and is long past the point where it makes any sense.
Most people in my life who care about me honestly think I’m in desperate need of some kind of interventional therapy.
So, probably like you, it’s not a stretch to say that Nov. 28, 2006 will always go down in history as one of the great days of my young life. Any future Ravens team will have a long way to go to top yesterday in regard to a recipe for how to beat the Steelers.
The only way it would’ve been better was to have been in the AFC Championship Game.
It was like a soaking wet dream sequence. If someone would’ve given me a script, I don’t know if I could’ve embellished it any more than what played out on the field yesterday.
I don’t think there was anything on the “Let’s embarrass the Steelers as much as possible” checklist yesterday, in regard to the dismantling, that the Ravens didn’t accomplish. Except maybe some more points.
Pick a stat, any stat!
Was it the 21 yards of rushing the Ravens defense graciously allowed? Or was it the franchise-record nine sacks that the defense forced? Or was it the planting of Ben Roethlisberger into the turf near the west end zone by my favorite Raven, Bart Scott, that will be replayed on “Jacked Up” tonight and into perpetuity in the mind of any Ravens fan?
The most gratifying part of the entire experience — this year’s first Steelers week in the midst of a 9-2 start and a short business week — is truly learning that the players in the purple locker room hate the Steelers as much as we do.
First there was Ed Reed’s admission of “hating the Steelers with a passion” on Ravens Wired last week. Then there were the various text messages I received from some players during the week indicating that it was a special week. But even in the aftermath of yesterday’s game, more information came my way.
Just how much do the players hate the Steelers?
I wasn’t taking notes in the locker room, but at least five players on the offensive side expressed to me privately that they were disappointed in Billick’s tack in the second half to go easy, rest the starters, run the ball and just get the game over with on the offensive side.
Clearly, that’s not logical, but even Billick, himself, was so pressed to beat the Steelers back in 2003 that he rushed Jamal Lewis too long and too hard through a meaningless primetime, regular season finale that probably cost the team six days later when Tennessee came into town and abruptly ended our season.
It’s not sensible, but I sure appreciate the passion and pride for beating the Steelers that I’ve seen in the whites of the eyes of the long-time Ravens in that locker room.
I would like to think that I won’t live long enough to see a day when a Ravens team rolls over and gets kicked and beaten quite the way the defending World Champions did yesterday.
We’ll be playing sound bites from the Pittsburgh locker room here on WNST all day — the ones with Bill Cowher spitting out his frustrations and Hines Ward whining and Ben Roethlisberger expressing the sheer violence of the hit No. 57 put on him yesterday.
Since it’s the holiday season — the only comparison I might have for yesterday’s win is the scene when Ralphie smacks the snot out of the neighborhood bully in “A Christmas Story.”
Every sack from Adalius Thomas or Terrell Suggs or Trevor Pryce was like one more right cross from Ralphie!
Yesterday was more like a party than a football game for any of us who have endured Steelers fans in our lives.
Yesterday was the 22nd time they’ve met since the Ravens came to Baltimore in 1996. I have been in the stadium for all 22 of these games, the ones that seem to matter the most every year.
I remember losing 37-0 in the ashtray of Three Rivers in 1997 on ESPN. I remember watching Kordell Stewart run 80 yards on a quarterback sneak on 33rd Street the same year. I remember watching Elvis Grbac struggle during the playoff loss in 2001. I remember the four hours, up and back, sometimes in driving snow, on every trip since the Ravens wore the Mean Machine outfits. Maybe it’s my cynical side, but I remember more about the losses than I do the wins when it comes to playing Pittsburgh.
But there came a point in the game yesterday — right around halftime — where just winning the game wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t about winning anymore. It was about shutting the Pittsburgh Steelers out, keeping that doughnut on the scoreboard and embarrassing them on the way outta town.
It was about out-toughing the tough guys, out-smacking the smackers and out-bullying the biggest bully of them all.
It was about Ray Lewis and company speaking for everyone out there with a purple jersey in their closet and saying, “You’re gonna remember this one!”
That’s how much hatred there is in this rivalry!
For me, yesterday healed a lot of wounds in regard to Pittsburgh.
The matchup has been, since 1996, more lopsided than we probably care to admit, but in one 60-minute wallop, the boys in purple righted all the wrongs of Vinny Testaverde, Ted Marchibroda and even Dan Pastorini in my world.
The purple gang is 9-2 and I spent part of the weekend in Miami scouting party places for a “Dos Festivus” celebration during Super Bowl week in early February. (For the record: I’ve found the Whiskey Joe’s of South Florida circa 2007…all we need is for the team to get there too!)
Hey, I’ll admit it — I’ve got Super Bowl fever and it’s making me delirious!
And why shouldn’t I, right?
Why NOT get excited about this football team right now? Do I have to wait until late January to have some fun and dream the dream?
And now, pending this critical three-day period of rest and mental preparation for a very tough game in Cincinnati on Thursday night, the bye feels within our reach. The playoffs feel like an afterthought, much like the win did yesterday in the third quarter.
Now it’s all about a Super Bowl title that feels very real and attainable and possible.
And the confidence is brimming in that Ravens’ locker room.
And no matter how lopsided the rivalry with Pittsburgh ever gets or how the season turns out come February, we’ll always have yesterday: Ravens 27, Steelers nothing.