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Steeler Sunday

On most days the world is a complicated place, filled with mitigating factors and complex considerations. Not today. The Steelers are in town, and things gets real simple. The populace cries out with one voice: Beat Pittsburgh.

The football rivalry between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers is storied and bitter. At stake tonight is not just first place in the division and a favorable slot in the post-season playoffs, but also bragging rights. These are two of the better teams in the National Football League, and the victor will likely be hailed as a Super Bowl contender, a major accolade in the competitive landscape of civic pride.

As happens with historic matchups (think the Spartans and the Athenians, the Montagues and Capulets, the Hatfields and the McCoys), encounters between Baltimore and Pittsburgh produce searing memories and blinding emotions. In Baltimore, we see their players as preening and provocative and ours as humble paragons of virtue. We are good, they are evil.

That is the view in Pittsburgh as well, but the pronouns are flipped. (Pittsburgh fans are, obviously, delusional.)

In truth, the cities share many similarities — blue-collar towns with a fierce sense of loyalty to teams that until this year thrived on their defense. Moreover, it is possible that regardless of the outcome of tonight's game, both teams will make the playoffs and might even end up playing each other again.

But enough of this nicey-nice, big-picture talk. Time to put on the purple and black and think narrow thoughts: Go Ravens: Beat the Steelers.

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