It has been called the fiercest, hardest hitting rivalry in the National Football League, pitting teams from hard-nosed, blue-collar northeast cities whose fans wish mostly ill-will towards the opposition.  Some will argue that there are more bitter rivals elsewhere, but either way you look at it Sunday night’s Ravens/Steelers game figures to be more of what we are accustomed too.  Since 2000 the Ravens and Steelers have traded blows with the Steelers having won 11 and the Ravens 10 of the regular season match-ups.  Over the same time period the clubs have often traded places rising to the top of the AFC and back down again, but no matter who the better team is heading into the game, the out-come is often close and hotly contested.  Here is a look back at the the best and worst of the Ravens/Steelers rivalry, through purple tinted glasses.

1. 11/26/06 – Ravens 27, Steelers 0
In one of only 3 shutouts in the history of the series, the Ravens ruled the roost in Baltimore making “Big Ben” wish his run in with the windshield had landed him on IR for the year. The Ravens sacked Roethlisberger 9 times, including the infamous Bart Scott sack, and forced him into 3 TO’s on their way to the rout.  The Ravens went on to win the AFC North in ,06 and had a 31-7 win in Pittsburgh against the defending Super Bowl champions.

2. 10/3/10 – Ravens 17, Steelers 14
e Sure the Steelers were without the services of the suspended Roethlisberger, but this was a key early season win on the road, without Ed Reed. It also was QB Joe Flacco’s first win in Pittsburgh and first game with late game heroics against the Steelers. When it looked like the game was lost after a wth down pass to Anquan Boldinfell to the ground, the Ravens defense registered a quick three and out. Flaccopromptly led a 23 second 40 yard drive, hitting a wide open TJ Houshmanzadeh to win the game.

3. 9/13/00 – Ravens 16, Steelers 0
The Ravens opened the season in Pittsburgh serving notice to the rest of the league that their hot finish in 1999 was no fluke and that their defense was here to stay. The Ravens started fast with a big strike from Tony Banks to Qadry Ismail, which ended up being all the offense they would need. That was the start of the Ravens march to glory, culminating in a Super Bowl XXXV victory.

1. 1/18/09 – Steeler 23, Ravens 14
This was the third match-up of the season between the Steelers and Ravens with a trip to the Super Bowl riding in the balance. Pittsburgh had narrowly beaten the Ravens in 2 regular season 2008 match-ups and looked like the team to beat with a dominating defense and dynamic receivers. The Ravens made the game close with Willis McGahee touchdown runs in the 2nd and 4th quarters, but the Ravens and a rookie QB in Flacco did not have enough weapons to mount a final drive with under 5 minutes to play, down 2 in final quarter.

2. 12/14/08 – Steelers 13, Ravens 9
The Ravens and Steelers entered this late season game with just one game separating them in the standings. The division crown as well as home field advantage in the play-offs were on the line. Neither scored a touchdown, in this defensively dominated game, until Roethlisberger hit Santonio Holmes at the goal line. Holmes appeared to be stopped short of the end zone, as he was initially ruled, but the officials over-turned the play when it went to replay. The replays seemed inconclusive at best, but the win would loom large as the Ravens and Steelers would meet again in the play-offs at Heinz Field.

3. 11/9/97 – Steelers 37, Ravens 0
I had the misfortune of being out of town for college when the Ravens came to Baltimore. I also had the misfortune of having this nationally televised game be the first game I witnessed between the Ravens and the Steelers. Thankfully I do not remember many of the particulars of the game, other than it was a white washing in the Steelers favor, but I do remember being so frustrated at how poorly the Ravens played and how much I wanted to see them beat the Steelers, more than any other team. I guess I consider this game my initiation into the Ravens/Steelers rivalry, a rivalry that has only gotten more passionate with time.

What are your favorite Ravens/Steelers memories of games or otherwise?