Pittsburgh at Baltimore reaches a whole new level this weekend

December 11, 2008 | Brian Billick

I am one of many Baltimore fans who is excited about the game this weekend with the Pittsburgh Steelers.  The rivalry with the Steelers is as passionate and intense as any in football.  What makes this game so unique is what is at stake this late in the year.

In the nine years I was the Head Coach of the Ravens, we were .500 (a 9-9 split) in the regular season.  What was unique about our games was that, except for the playoff game in 2001, seldom were both teams good in the same year.  It seemed that when we were good the Steelers were having an off year and vice versa.  Certainly the games always had some ramifications for each team with regards to the division and possible playoffs, but rarely has it had this level of impact, this late in the year, for both teams.  I can’t imagine what that will do to the level of intensity in what is already a very intense environment.  Indeed, the team that is able to keep their composure and use the intensity to their advantage is likely to be the winner.

I will also be interested in seeing how many Ravens fans give up their seats to the well-traveled Steelers fans.  As I noted earlier, if the late game here in Baltimore were in a year where the Steelers were not in the divisional or playoff picture, the number of Steelers fans wiling to pay the premium on tickets was limited.

Obviously, in if the Ravens were at home late in the season and it was the Steelers who were going to the playoffs and the Ravens were not, you might understand how some Ravens fans might be willing to part with their tickets for a nice profit.

This year, with all that is at stake, if you find yourself setting next to a Steelers fan, then you are pretty much going to know the depth of loyalty the person who normally sits next to you has for his team.  When said fan returns to his seat vs. Jacksonville two weeks later, at the very least he should buy the beer. At which point you are free to pour it on them.