... it's Ravens week.
It almost doesn't seem right for this game to start the season, it's as if there should be more requisite build-up and hype. Three times these teams have opened the season against one another: a 34-15 Steeler home win in 2003; a 16-0 Steelers home loss in 2000 and a 20-13 Steelers road win in 1998. Oddly, all three have been among the few forgettable games in the history of this rivalry.
Trying to make a list of the top moments in Steelers-Ravens history is an almost quixotic endeavor, there are so many spectacular plays in so many games of genuine consequence and so much downright breathtaking violence ...
Antonio Brown's helmet catch, The Comeback, Roethlisberger to Redmond, Big Ben getting out of bounds, Polamalu's sack & strip, Ben's broken nose, Polamalu's Super pick 6, Ryan Clark's hit on McGahee, Santonio's tip toe TD, Ward leveling Reed, James Harrison's Monday night mauling, the dawn of the Roethlisberger era ... the hits keep on coming ...
Though difficult to quantify exactly, it is not hyperbole to suggest that there have been more memorable moments in 33 games spanning 15 years against the Ravens than in the combined 56 games against the Browns and Bengals during the same time period.
Both teams figure to be Super Bowl contenders, and Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston thinks the Ravens are even better than they were last year, despite having a patchwork offensive line (a concept we're quite familiar with here in Pittsburgh), and for once, there is no injury drama surrounding Big Ben.
Here's a recap of last year's proceedings:
2010-11 AFC Divisional Playoff game
2010 Week 13 victory in Baltimore
Big Ben's broken & bloodied schnozz:
2010 Week 4 loss in Pittsburgh
This 10 minute clip features highlights from 1996 through 2009:
And, as a bonus, this 1997 Sports Center recap narrated by a young Dan Patrick which illustrates both the occasional genius and maddening inconsistency of Kordell Stewart