Five questions with … Larry Foote

As a former Michigan star, Steelers linebacker Larry Foote has seen his share of football rivalries. But Foote admits that games against the Baltimore Ravens are every bit as big as ones against Michigan State and Ohio State. We sat down this week with Foote to talk about what has become one of the NFL's best rivalries.

Are they still the team that has given you guys so much trouble over the years?
Yeah, because when they come play us it's tough because they have the same mindset as us. They want to run the football and play tough defense. It's going to be a very physical game, the records are thrown out. I've been in this situation in college with Michigan State and Ohio State. Records really don't really mean anything in these games. We want to beat them no matter what their record is. A couple of years ago they showed us they wanted to do the same thing when coach (Brian) Billick left their players in when they had a playoff spot wrapped up. They left the starters out there against us. We know what kind of game this is. It's always a hard fight. There's only been one time, when we played them in the opening game of that year, when we beat them pretty good. Every other game has been a dog fight.

Where does that hatred, that passion come from, familiarity?
That and we're similar. We're very physical. We run the ball and stop the run. It's two great defense and offenses that like to run the ball. It started boiling the year before I got here and it's been escalating every year.

Is that something you guys enjoy?
We love playing them because they're going to bring the best out in us. We want to beat them bad. You know, it just gets your blood going.

Do you really load up to stop the run this week and make Anthony Wright beat you?
Our goal every week ain't going to change. We want to make then one dimensional. We don't want this to be the week that Jamal Lewis gets started. You can tell on film that it's any minute now. We want to delay it one more week.

What's been the problem there?
I don't really know. You just know that for somebody with that type of ability, it's got to be a combination of things. I see in the media people are asking what's wrong with him, but it has to be a combination of things. It's got to be the blocking. And you have to be able to throw the ball, I don't care who you've got. When they've got eight or nine men in the box, you've got to be able to throw the ball. It's hard to run in that, I don't care what kind of running back you've got. We know that here, you've got to be able to pass to run the ball.

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