Ravens' swagger is back — just in time

Team needs to go into Pittsburgh with some attitude

November 03, 2011|Mike Preston

Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs has the right idea.

He stirred the emotions in the NFL's best rivalry this week when he reclaimed ownership of Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, talked about his warm and fuzzy relationship with Steelers fans and called out "Smiley," Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward.

God bless Terrell Suggs.

There was some concern here about the Ravens. After turning in two lackluster performances against Jacksonville and Arizona, I thought they might have lost some life and swagger. And then came Suggs, the NFL's version of Muhammad Ali.

There is no other way to go into Pittsburgh. You don't go in peeping and creeping, behaving like some little puppy with his tail between his legs. You dial the Steelers up and let them know you're coming to town. You remind them of how they got their butts kicked in Baltimore earlier this season, and tell them it could happen again in their house in front of their fans and the nation.

Shannon Sharpe would say it. Sam Adams would preach it — and start talking about bringing his lunch and a hard hat.

I'm usually old school, but the Ravens can't be quiet in this situation. It might appear they were afraid. When the Steelers left Baltimore a couple of months ago, "Smiley" said they would remember the things that happened here.

It was a threat.

Since then, there were reports that the Steelers didn't like the way the Ravens tried to run up the score by going for two points and throwing late in the game. They didn't like the Ravens dancing on the sideline and chop blocking their defensive linemen.

And now, they are supposed to have all of this momentum because they are virtually unbeatable at home and they got the Terrible Towels, tradition, a short memory and "Renegade," the greatest fight song in Pittsburgh since "Eye of the Tiger."

And blah, blah, blah……

Enough.

It was only a matter of time before Suggs answered — seconds in fact — about as long as it takes for a reporter to get a microphone under his mouth during Ravens/Steelers week.

"We have been declared war upon," Suggs said Wednesday. "We are the enemy of the state, but who better than us? We're taking 53 men to the apocalypse and we ain't bringing flowers."

Oh, and I love the way he chided "Smiley."

Can No. 86 come out to play?

"I'm looking right at you [No. 86]," Suggs said. "I need you to play. Please put on that 86, and that smile and all those things you do. We need all that for this game."

Even Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb took a swipe at the Steelers by indicating that Antonio Brown was better than Mike Wallace.

Ouch.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh won't shut his guys up this week. He knows better. In this game, you have to talk loud and carry a big stick. Plus, what two better coaches to have in this series than Harbaugh and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin? Couldn't you see them duking it out in a Wal-Mart parking lot? They both have chips on their shoulders and their personalities are made for this game.

I'm glad to see some fight back in the Ravens. As soon as they heard they were three-point underdogs, you could see and feel the attitude.

"I don't see us as the underdog," said Ravens running back Ray Rice. "The feeling is they are a divisional opponent, they're a rivalry opponent, and we know what this game means. If we win, we've swept them for the season. We don't have to worry about Pittsburgh no more the rest of the year. We control our own destiny. Coming out of this game, we know what it means. It's going to have that playoff-type atmosphere right now."

The underdog role for the Ravens is justified. Pittsburgh seems to have found its niche, especially on offense with Roethlisberger throwing a lot of short passes. The Steelers were impressive in their win against New England Sunday, and had the ball on offense for nearly 40 minutes.

But in a game like this, does it all really matter?

It's a major fight, two brutes going against one another. The Ravens won the first one, and they have set the tone for the second. This reminds me of the Ravens in 2000, when the Ravens had to travel to much-hated rival Tennessee to play the Titans in an AFC divisional game.

The Ravens were chirping then as they are now. Afterwards, then-Ravens coach Brian Billick was asked by reporters about his players' trash talking.

"When you go into the lions' den, you don't tippy-toe in. You carry a spear. You go in screaming like a banshee," Billick said.

He was right then, and the Ravens are right now.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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