Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell really didn’t need a reminder about the magnitude of this week’s game against the Steelers.
Pittsburgh and Baltimore will meet for the 53rd time with first place in the AFC North at stake in Week 8 at M&T Bank Stadium. The Steelers are also the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL, but the Ravens are still favored by 5.5 points.
“You could tell that this game carries a lot of weight. I’m a football fan,” Campbell said. “I’ve been watching football all my life and have been playing it long enough to know this is … There’s no bigger rivalry in sports, in professional sports, in my opinion than this matchup. As a football fan, I’ve watched it from afar for plenty of years; I’m happy to finally be in it.”
The Steelers will be looking for a measure of revenge after being swept by the Ravens last season. Baltimore also knocked Pittsburgh out of the playoffs in the regular-season finale, with Robert Griffin making his first start of the year.
The biggest difference this year is that Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is back in the lineup and playing at a high level. Roethlisberger has thrown for 1,446 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions (99.6 qb rating).
“We’ve played against him many, many times for many years now,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “[I’ve] seen him on the field, [and] I’ve seen countless, countless hours of him on tape. I’ve done countless breakdowns [and] have played against him numerous times.”
The Ravens trail the all-time regular-season series 25-23 and are 1-3 against Pittsburgh in the postseason.
The Ravens might have a slight advantage coming off their bye. This game was originally scheduled for Oct. 25 before COVID-19 wreaked havoc with the schedule.
As a result, Pittsburgh is coming off a hard-fought 27-24 victory over the previously unbeaten Titans. The Steelers led 27-7 early in the third quarter before Tennessee put together a furious rally behind quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry.
The Titans fell short when kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed a 45-yard field goal with 19 seconds left that would have tied the game.
The Ravens and Steelers rivalry has also been highlighted by those types of close games and this week could be no different.
“When you have a rivalry game like this, this is one of the best in football,” Baltimore tight end Mark Andrews said. “So, there’s nothing better. We know the type of game that it’s going to be. It’s going to be a ‘Dogfight.’ They’re going to be ready to go, [and] we’re going to be ready to go. This is what you live for right here. This is a big game in our division, and obviously, this means a lot to both teams. So, I know we’re going to have pride out there and do our thing.”
The game is especially important for the Ravens, who would fall two games behind the Steelers in the standings with a loss. Baltimore is also embarking on the toughest portion of its schedule with upcoming games against the Colts, Patriots. Titans and a rematch with Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving night.
The playoff picture will be much clearer after that stretch.
“Every week is big,” Harbaugh said. “Every week is important. They all really matter, but this is the Steelers. We’ve never shied away from saying that it’s our rivalry game. On our side of it, we’ve always considered it to be that. We have a lot of respect for them, and we know what kind of game we’re in for. We understand what type of a game this is, and we’re looking forward to it.”