Ray Lewis, Joey Porter continue dispute

BALTIMORE -- It's a safe bet that Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Joey Porter didn't exchange Christmas cards this holiday season. Or that the two rival AFC North linebackers ever will. Before the Ravens' 13-10 overtime win over the Steelers on Sunday night at M&T Bank Stadium, Lewis and Porter engaged in a loud argument at the coin flip.

An official eventually stepped between Lewis, Porter and Steelers linebacker Jason Gildon to try to quell the dispute. "There's always some sort of emotion that you get into," Lewis said. "And if you don't have the type of emotion that Joey has and I have, then the game isn't football. After the game, he came over and said, 'Represent the division well,' and that's that. That's the same thing that coach Cowher said. It's just football. Once we leave the field, act like men." 

Regardless of post-game sentiment, it remains obvious that Lewis and Porter haven't put their verbal altercation from the teams' first meeting behind them. Porter didn't play in that game because he was nursing a gunshot wound in his upper thigh. Before, during and after the Steelers' 34-15 win, Porter complained about Lewis. He claimed that Lewis was mocking his "boot" kick that he does after tackles during pregame warmups. He also reportedly continued the harangue by the Ravens' team bus with Lewis and defensive back Corey Fuller. Lewis said he was merely telling Porter that the injured player was in his prayers. 

During the third quarter when Jamal Lewis fumbled and Pittsburgh recovered, Porter appeared to imitate Ray Lewis' pregame gyrations with his own dance steps while staring at the Baltimore sideline. Porter said he regretted his personal foul that set up a Matt Stover field goal. "That's just competition that I have when we play against them, that I play with, period," Porter said. "When someone challenges, me, I'm going to challenge you back. He's not going to back down and I'm not going to back down. "And you have two pitbulls in a little ring that's ready to lock up at any time. And that's pretty much how it happened." 

CEREMONY DELAYED: Because Art Modell was ailing with bronchitis and the flu, he didn't attend his final regular-season game as majority owner on his doctor's advice. Modell, 78, was scheduled to be inducted into the club's Ring of Honor at halftime. Instead, he will join former Ravens running back Earnest Byner and the Baltimore Colts' Hall of Famers at halftime of next weekend's playoff game against the Tennessee Titans. Modell is selling the team to minority owner and Maryland businessman Steve Bisciotti. He will remain a consultant to Bisciotti and, possibly, a minority shareholder. "For him not to be a part of his big night with everything that's going on, it's kind of a downer that he can't be here," said Phil Savage, the Ravens' director of personnel. "He'll be watching on television and I'm sure he'll be calling Ozzie Newsome every quarter." 

PASS RUSHERS: Baltimore sacked Tommy Maddox five times with 2 1/2 from defensive end Marques Douglas and 1 1/2 from linebacker Ed Hartwell. The Ravens also intercepted Maddox three times. "I think our unit has totally gotten stronger," Douglas said. "We've got a lot of love on the defensive line and defense, in general. If one of us makes a sack, it's like all of us gets the sack." 

INJURY UPDATE: Punter Dave Zastudil suffered a broken nose and a mild concussion. He was replaced by rookie quarterback Kyle Boller. Boller's first punt went for 29 yards. It was his first NFL attempt. Zastudil said he wasn't sure how he incurred the injury, but said he will be available to punt against the Titans. Running back Chester Taylor sprained his knee and didn't return. THAT'S MINE: Ravens safety Ed Reed intercepted his seventh pass of the season in the first quarter to tie former Baltimore defensive back Rod Woodson's single-season team mark established in 1999. A first-round draft pick in 2002, Reed has 12 interceptions in his first 32 NFL games. In the second quarter, Reed laid out Steelers receiver Antwaan Randle El with a fierce tackle to force an incompletion. While hurdling the fallen receiver, he accidentally toppled rookie outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, too. 

A LOOK AHEAD: Baltimore won't log many frequent-flyer miles next season. Besides the AFC North division schedule, the majority of the Ravens' schedule is against the AFC East and NFC East. The Ravens will host Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Miami, Dallas, New York Giants and Kansas City. Their road games include Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, New England, New York Jets, Philadelphia, Washington and Indianapolis. 

INACTIVES: The Ravens deactivated quarterback Chris Redman, defensive back Raymond Walls, long snapper Mike Solwold, outside linebacker Peter Boulware, defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin, offensive tackle Damion Cook, wide receiver Frank Sanders and tight end John Jones

QUICK HITS: The Steelers' six-game winning streak in Baltimore was stopped. ... The overtime game was Baltimore's third of the season, a team record as they finished 2-1 in extra-period contests. ... The attendance of 70,001 was the largest in Baltimore sports history. ...Jamal Lewis tied Michael Jackson's club mark with his 14th touchdown of the season. ... Steelers running back Jerome Bettis surpassed Jim Brown on the NFL's all-time rushing list with 54 yards for 12,353 yards to surpass Brown's 12,312 yards. ... Steelers coach Bill Cowher began his NFL coaching career as a special teams and defensive backs coach for Art Modell's Cleveland Browns. Steelers punter Josh Miller used to play for the CFL's Baltimore Stallions. ... Steelers offensive line coach Russ Grimm, defensive coordinator Tim Lewis and Ravens offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh were teammates when Cavanaugh quarterbacked the University of Pittsburgh to the 1976 national championship. Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.


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