(Photos courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens)

Talk of Fame Network

Former Pittsburgh wide receiver Hines Ward once said that there was something about the Baltimore-Pittsburgh rivalry that made it unique; that made it different from all the others in the NFL.

And that was the hatred.

As Ward put it, the coaches hated the coaches, and the players hated the players, and there was no use trying to disguise it or getting around it. Everyone knew it, and everyone felt it.

Well, there’s certainly no love lost for the Ravens in Pittsburgh today. Not only did Baltimore upset Pittsburgh Sunday, a loss that could cost the Steelers a playoff spot, but the Ravens swept them for only the third time in the history of the series. We don’t know if the word “hate” is still applicable, but we know someone who does.

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Jamal Lewis, come on down.

We spoke to the Ravens’ former star running back on this week’s Talk of Fame Network broadcast, and he lined up behind Ward, once his arch rival, saying that “hate” is not an exaggeration when you’re talking about coaches and players from the other side in this series.

“No, it’s not,” said Lewis. “That’s not too strong of a word. It’s actually best used. It was one of those things when coach came in to speak Monday morning or whether it was Wednesday morning when you started practice week, it wasn’t, ‘All right fellas this is what we got to do, and this is what we’re going to do.’ It was more direct.

“It was, ‘You already know what this is all about. I don’t have to talk about it. I don’t have to even bring it up. You know what you’ve got to do. You know how you’ve got to prepare.’ It was like it was understood how you were going to go in and approach that week. And the coach didn’t have to really say it.

“It was firm attention to detail. Even the players were stepping up to the plate and making all the corrections to make sure you were ready to go. Because you knew you had to be a band of brothers going into that game.”

Steelers' coach Mike Tomlin once called the rivalry the best in the game, a sentiment echoed by Baltimore’s John Harbaugh. And most persons today would agree. There is nothing better than Baltimore-Pittsburgh, with the games physical, punishing and close. In fact, the Ravens’ 20-17 defeat Sunday marked the seventh time in the past 10 games between the two that three or fewer points separated them.

“With that rivalry, when the week came around, the whole town just shifted,” Lewis said. “In the locker room, guys would prepare different. They would eat different. They would sleep different. It was just one of those things where you knew you had to bring your hard hat, (and) you knew it was going to be an all day hit-a-thon. So you just wanted to be ready. It was like your level of concentration ... and your high beams … went up to full capacity that week.”