The week of preparation is finally over and on Saturday, the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers will hit the field and put their long-standing AFC North and divisional rivalry to the test with a chance to advance to the conference championship on the line.
The Ravens (13-4)-entered the postseason as the five-seed in the AFC playoffs-defeated the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday 30-7 on the road in their opening wild card matchup, and now along with the Jets and Patriots facing off in the other Divisional game, the Ravens are determined to get over the hump known as the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Several Ravens players joined “The Morning Reaction” this week to discuss their eagerness to punish the hated Steelers, and making the AFC Championship by beating them would make it that much more worth it.
“I know the playoff atmosphere is going to be crazy,” linebacker Dannell Ellerbe told Drew Forrester of “The Morning Reaction” earlier this week, “because when we played Pittsburgh earlier this year it was a lot like a playoff game, and that was a regular season game.”
Ellerbe has played well in the recent weeks with the injury to linebacker Tavares Gooden, giving Ellerbe more of an opportunity to showcase his skills again to coach John Harbaugh in the attempt to get out of the dreaded “doghouse”.
Punter Sam Koch also joined Drew and Glenn Clark on Thursday and re-iterated the same point.
“We’re such a closer team this year from last,” Koch said. “And it’s just a vibe that were going to go out and we’re going to do it this year. A lot of people are excited, and we’re all ready to see where we are and where we’ll end up.”
And it would get even better for the Ravens to host the AFC Championship game should the cards play out for them on Sunday.
“It will be a lot of fun,” the Ravens punter said. “It would be even nicer if the Jets beat the Patriots.”
Both Koch and Ellerbe talked about the difficulty though of playing up in a hostile environment of Heinz Field, and with the stakes higher, it makes the challenge of having a solid game of football that much harder.
Koch and Ellerbe both challenged the Ravens fans to be present, active, and lively on Saturday on the road to make it that much harder for the Steelers to concentrate on their game plan.
“We’re going to need every fan we can get there,” Koch added.”Whenever you were going to Pittsburgh or they were coming here, everybody wanted to go to the game, and everybody is cheering you on. It’s just a great atmosphere and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Koch compared the Pittsburgh-Ravens rivalry to the rivalries his alma mater, Nebraska, has with Oklahoma and Colorado, but times ten.
Ellerbe meanwhile compared it to his college-the University of Georgia-and its rivalry with in-state foe Georgia Tech.
The name of that rivalry game?
Good, Old-Fashioned Hate.
And while Ellerbe said he feels the same way toward the Steelers, he did admit that the rivalry takes on a bigger result in the professional leagues of football as opposed to the amateur level of college football.
“It’s different now because we’re in the NFL and more is at stake right now,” Ellerbe said.
“It would be great to get this win and get the best out of three this year and move on in the playoffs.”
WNST has you covered for Saturday’s game versus Pittsburgh! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!