Dunlap: This One Is Different

Colin Dunlap
November 01, 2018 - 7:06 am
Vance McDonald & Terrell Suggs

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan)- Notice the talk, will ya? 

Notice how the run-up this week to a very important game --- "AFC North road action" as Mike Tomlin would call it --- takes a different tone. Notice how you are fidgety this week, but the good kind of fidgety.  

You know, I got to thinking a couple hours ago as I was surveying the scene and mentally kind of getting ready for the Steelers to take on the Ravens this weekend: I really like this rivalry. Or, more to the point and the real issue here: I can't believe what the Steelers and Bengals "rivalry" has devolved into comparative to Steelers/Ravens. 

I love sports "hate." Not true hate, but the manufactured sports "hate" where you want nothing more than to beat the brains in of the guy across the scrimmage line, stand up and then do it about 1,000 more times until he finally relents or the clock has all zeroes across.

The Steelers and Ravens game through the years has been exactly right on the edge of that sports hate. It has been a perfect study. Guys like Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu and Ray Lewis and Ed Reed have made us all understand as much. Ben Roethlisberger and Terrell Suggs carry it through to this day --- that healthy dislike for the other side but one in which you knock the snot out of a guy but after the game are there to pat him on the rump and explain to him your effort was at its best because he gave his best effort. 

That's what sports is about, right? Isn't it? Pushing yourself to a limit because you want to beat that opponent who forces you to push yourself to that limit. 

The Steelers-Ravens matchup, in a way, is precisely what the NFL should be celebrating. 

Conversely, the Steelers and Bengals is such a mess. It's a mess and fraud because Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict has ruined any semblance there was of making this an honest, hard-hitting, enjoyable rivalry. 

Instead, in the week run-up to Steelers and Bengals it feels like there is worry. 

Will Burfict wipe out Ben? 

Will Burfict go helmet to helmet on Antonio Brown? 

Will Burfict twist someone's knee in a pile or in the course of making a tackle? 

Will Burfict commit an act of shenanigans so severe it forces retaliation? 

I guess that's why this week --- and the game is still a couple days away --- has been so enjoyable. Ravens week feels so much different than Bengals week. As we prepare to settle in and watch Steelers-Ravens and go through the requisite week of hype leading up to it, it's just about getting ready for a hard-hitting, smash-your-face-in-within-the-rules football game. It isn't about the other nonsense. Yeah, that kind of nonsense that comes with playing the Bengals. 

And that's exactly why, in a lot of ways, many Steelers fans will always enjoy matchups against the Ravens a lot more than those against the Bengals.  

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