Ravens have no shortage of motivation battling the Steelers
Turron Davenport | 12/26/2015, 6:30 p.m.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. The Baltimore Ravens will have plenty to play for when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday. The game has been flexed out of NBC’s Sunday Night Football slot because of the Ravens struggles this season.
There is plenty of pride to play for against the Steelers. Pittsburgh can clinch a playoff berth with a win on the road against the Ravens. There is no way a team led by John Harbaugh will lay down against any team, especially a division rival. Harbaugh said he believes the fans bring the same enthusiasm to the stadium.
“It’s our home game, so I expect most of our fans to be there. I think they’ll be fired up. We have great fans,” Harbaugh said. “It’s a rivalry game. It doesn’t change. It’s one of those games where they’ll say the records don’t matter. I think our fans are going to approach it that way. That’s the type of fans they are.”
The Ravens and Steelers have a long rivalry that goes beyond their AFC North affiliations. Every game is intense and usually has playoff implications for both teams. There is still a lot on the line even though the playoffs are out of question for the Ravens.
Timmy Jernigan is only in his second season, but he already has a chip on his shoulder when if comes to playing against the team’s arch rival.
“They’re not coming in here and just beating us. We’re not going to back down,” Jernigan said. “They’re going to have to take it from us.”
Some of the Ravens rookies are getting their first taste of the intense rivalry game against the Steelers. Daniel Brown has gotten more opportunities to play as of late. His physical style of play is a perfect match for this game.
“I’m excited for this. It’s very physical and gets kind of nasty. The coaches are preparing us for it,” Brown said. “I kind of welcome the physical play. It works to my advantage, being a bigger guy. I’m looking forward to it.”
Za’Darius Smith had his first two sack game of his career when the Ravens played the Steelers earlier in the year. The heated rivalry has an extra meaning to him because he gets to face a former teammate.
“That rivalry is so big in the NFL. Having an ex-teammate in Bud Dupree [from Kentucky] that plays for the Steelers, that’s even crazier,” Smith said. “It’s great to have that energy and intense emotions throughout the game. Preparing for this week is going to be even more intense.”
The veteran players know how much pride is at stake when these two teams meet. As Brandon Williams said, “Whether we’re 0-14 or 14-0, the Steelers game is the Steelers game, no matter what. We’re going to take it the same way every single time. It’s going to be a high-intensity game. We’re going to give everything we’ve got, and I’m pretty sure they’re going to do the same.”