Hate In The Eye Of The Beholder

Even with so many changes for both teams, the message from the Ravens continues to be one of hate, while Casey Hampton wonders if the Steelers hate enough. Mike Prisuta explains.

Terrell Suggs said about what you'd probably expect him to say, what he's always said about Steelers-Ravens and probably always will as long as his jersey is purple.

"These two teams don't like each other because they're so similar," Suggs told the Pittsburgh media via conference call on Wednesday morning.

"It'll never diminish as long as the colors are the colors."

Yet even Suggs had to acknowledge it's going to "suck" that so many of the brilliant combatants who have helped personify this series over the years – Ben Roethlisberger, Ray Lewis, Hines Ward, etc. – will miss the latest installment for one reason or another.

There will be more of those missing on Sunday night at Heinz Field than you might suspect.

Potentially 19 of the 44 players who started last year's season opener won't start this latest resumption of hostilities because they're either already gone, injured or have been demoted.

The Ravens have also changed kickers since then, as the Steelers have punters. And both teams have new return men, in addition to the likewise attrition when it comes to the backups and special-teams players rounding out each roster. As Jerry Glanville once observed of the NFL, "Not For Long."

With all of that being the case, you have to wonder if the likes of David Paulson and Kelechi Osemele have been around long enough to appropriately embrace what's supposed to be a white-hot hate for the other roster just because.

Casey Hampton's one of those stalwarts that made this rivalry what it is over the years. But even The Big Snack wondered aloud on Wednesday if the Steelers still had what could be considered an acceptable level of contempt for the Ravens.

"We've been finding out of late they hate us a lot more than we hate them," Hampton observed.

That was a reference to the Ravens having won three of the last four regular-season meetings, including both last season.

The Steelers have taken the last two playoff encounters (in 2008 and again in 2010) and are 3-0 all-time against Baltimore in the postseason.

If that's led to a subtle, almost subconscious, we'll-beat-them-when-we-have-to type of attitude creeping into the Steelers' psyche, Hampton would like to see a rapid attitude adjustment.

There's also the little matter of the Roethlisberger soap opera potentially distracting the Steelers, which doesn't help. Especially during a Baltimore Week.

"We gotta get our game up, man," Hampton maintained. "They did us bad the past couple of years.

"It's been showing in their play, man. They've been giving it to us pretty good. That's what gets them going. We gotta have that same mentality."

Both coaches appear to be setting the proper tone, as both John Harbaugh (on a conference call) and Mike Tomlin (following practice) took a seemingly-premeditated, chip-on-the-shoulder approach to dismissing legitimate questions as abruptly as possible on Wednesday.

Hey, whatever gets you going, fellas.

The Steelers have the rest of this week to respond to Tomlin, to the adversity of Roethlisberger's plight, to the more desperate position they occupy in the AFC North Division standings, and to recent history.

"There's a bad taste in my mouth from last year, how they beat us," Hampton said.

The Ravens have apparently already worked up a significant lather.

"They're going to show up and play football," Suggs observed of the Steelers. "And one thing's for certain, so will we."

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