Ravens-Patriots Rivalry Is Good, But It's No Steelers

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When it comes to ranking the Ravens' rivals, it's a two-horse race.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots.

Any other rivalry would have a tough case to make in matching those two.

As the Ravens prepare for yet another trip north to Foxboro, this time to face the Patriots on Monday Night Football, longtime Patriots reporter Tom Curran wrote this week that the Ravens are the Patriots' most bitter rival.

So how do the Ravens feel?

"That's pretty close," outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "We've had some legendary games with both of them. But nothing is bigger than Ravens-Steelers."

High stakes. History. Controversy. Those are the makings of a good rivalry, and Ravens-Patriots has it all.

It started in 2007, when the Patriots came to M&T Bank Stadium with an undefeated record and the Ravens were the biggest roadblock between them and a perfect 16-0 regular season. After 13 penalties, including a brutal one at the end, Ravens linebacker Bart Scott showed his frustration by throwing a referee's flag into the stands. New England got the 27-24 victory.

The two teams met again in 2009, when Suggs was flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty after quarterback Tom Brady begged a referee for the call. The Ravens lost another heartbreaker.

Baltimore got revenge later that year, as it traveled to Foxboro for a 33-14 win in the wild-card round of the playoffs. Running back Ray Rice ran 83 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the game and Brady turned the ball over four times.

Then came the AFC championship of 2011, when a game-winning touchdown drop by wide receiver Lee Evans and* *a game-tying field-goal shank by kicker Billy Cundiff sent the Patriots to the Super Bowl instead of Baltimore.

There was a 2012 regular-season game that rookie kicker Justin Tucker sealed with 27-yard field goal as time expired. Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick ran onto the field and grabbed a replacement referee to protest that the field goal split the uprights.

The teams had an AFC championship rematch the following year, and this time quarterback "January Joe" Flacco wasn't going to be denied. The Ravens defense pitched a second-half shutout and the Ravens went on to Super Bowl XLVII.

Their last meeting came in the 2014 divisional playoffs, where the Ravens took two 14-point leads only to be erased, in part, on multiple trick plays by the Patriots. After the game, Brady said the Ravens should "study the rule book," which did not sit well in Baltimore.

Monday night's matchup will mark the tenth meeting in 10 years, which include four playoff games. That's an unusually high number of games for teams not in the same division.

That familiarity is part of what makes Ravens-Patriots so good.

"Guys can look at what has gone on up there before and the types of games we've played up there. There's some kind of feeling that's in the building when we go up and play," Flacco said.

"We play a lot of tough games every year and we've had to go up there a good amount late in the season, in the playoffs. I think that gives you a sense of confidence to go up there and get the job done. When you haven't experienced it much, I think they're a team that can intimidate some people. I don't think that's us"

Flacco went on to say that the Ravens get more excitement not from the history, but by the fact that Monday night's game has such high stakes. While the Patriots' playoff position is fairly secure, the Ravens are fighting with the Steelers atop the AFC North.

Head Coach John Harbaugh said he talked to his team about the rivalry with the Patriots.

"We're glad to be in this game," Harbaugh said. "We're glad we've earned the right to play a meaningful game in December, most especially against the team we're about to play because they're always in that position."

Just like the Ravens have respect for the Steelers, there's the same feeling for New England. He may have been playing nice, but when asked if he dislikes the Patriots, even Suggs said "no."

"How many Super Bowls do they have?" Suggs said. "They have like four or five and they've played in like six or seven games. You can't do anything but respect that. Wins are wins and championships are championships."

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