|Ravens CB Cary Williams puts it rather bluntly: The Ravens and Steelers don't like each other. (US Presswire)|
It doesn't take long to understand the importance of Ravens-Steelers' week.
Cornerback Cary Williams played in the rivalry for the first time in 2011. He started in both of Baltimore's victories, a home blowout and a comeback win on the road.
The game has become one of the NFL's premier rivalries, partly due to the hatred both teams share for each other during the 60 minutes they spend going at each other on a football field.
"We don't like them, they don't like us," Williams said. "It's going to be hell out there."
Coach John Harbaugh had a different take than Williams' but that is most likely due to each of their job descriptions. Williams has to play with that kind of passion if he wants to succeed in a rivalry as important as this.
Harbaugh has to take a more calculated and strategic approach leading into this week. And maybe that has led to Harbaugh referring to the Ravens-Steelers rivalry in a polar opposite way of what Williams alluded to.
"Ah, heaven," Harbaugh said. "To me, if you love football there's no greater place to be. Playing there, in that great stadium against that great organization. Those games have already been great games. We've always felt it's a rivalry and we'll consider it to be a great rivalry. We'll consider it to be a great rivalry. We're excited to go play it, we always are. We respect them and love playing against them. I suspect they feel the same."
After Baltimore beat Pittsburgh 35-7 in the 2011 season opener at home, the Steelers made things more competitive when the Ravens came to Heinz Field. Pittsburgh went up 20-16 with just under a minute left to go. Joe Flacco then led the Ravens 92 yards down the field, throwing a 26-yard pass to Torrey Smith to win the game.
Smith got his first experience of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry last year mostly in the second meeting. Smith didn't record a catch in last year's opener, playing sparingly since former Ravens receiver Lee Evans was ahead of him on the depth chart when the 2011 season began.
But Smith made his mark as a rookie that day, catching five passes for 71 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
"It's going to be a huge week for us in terms of practice and getting ready for them," Smith said. "The good thing is our coaches are familiar with them, we're familiar with them as players, and it's going to be a good one. It's a huge game for both teams, not only for our divisions, but just for the cities as well.”
This year's Ravens-Steelers' rivalry has an interesting twist as the two teams will meet twice and three weeks. After this week's game against Pittsburgh, the Ravens will travel to San Diego before returning to host the Steelers.
"Im chomping at the bit, man," Williams said. "It's an opportunity of a lifetime, to go out there and perform at a high level. It's a great week, a great matchup and we understand what they bring to the table."
Follow Ravens reporter Jason Butt on Twitter: @CBSRavens and @JasonButtCBS.