Before his defenses used to face the Carolina Panthers, Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees would issue a warning to his players about dealing with feisty wide receiver Steve Smith.

"Don't make him mad," Pees would say about the current Raven. "All you're going to do is make him play harder, and you're not going to like the results."

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Pees has advised the Ravens to take the same approach Sunday with San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, one of the league's most fiery and prolific quarterbacks. Rivers currently leads the NFL with 2,452 passing yards and the Chargers have the league's top-ranked offense, averaging 430.7 yards per game.

"I think the more you try to get in his face – the more you try to do any of that – I think he actually loves it," Pees said. "I think he thrives on it a little bit. I really have a ton of respect for him. I think he's a guy who will get in the defense's face, which I don't like. But I really have tremendous amount of respect for his competitiveness and how he plays."

Ravens defensive players have been effusive in their praise of the 12th-year quarterback. Jimmy Smith called him one of the top quarterbacks in the league. Fellow Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb referred to Rivers as one of the "greats," comparing his ability to run the Chargers' offense to what Tom Brady does for the New England Patriots and Peyton Manning does for the Denver Broncos.

Defensive end Chris Canty, meanwhile, has been chasing Rivers since his college days when he played at Virginia and Rivers was at North Carolina State.

"He's a top competitor. You appreciate that about him," Canty said. "At the same time, you know he's going to bring his 'A' game so you have to be prepared for it. He's one of those few quarterbacks in our league that's able to process a lot of information very quickly and try to put his guys in situations where they can be successful so we have to understand that and understand how they try to take advantage of different looks that the defense might present."

The Ravens have learned the hard way in recent matchups against Rivers. In six career games against the Ravens, Rivers has thrown for an average of 285 yards per contest and has 11 touchdown passes and just four interceptions.

Rivers dealt the Ravens one of their worst losses of last season, leading the Chargers back from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit at M&T Bank Stadium. He hit Eddie Royal for a 1-yard touchdown pass with 38 seconds to go to secure a 34-33 victory. Rivers completed 34-of-45 passes for 383 yards and threw three touchdown passes in the game.

"We played well until the very end," Pees said. "I think the last four minutes is when we really didn't pay well. We have to compete for 60 minutes. It's actually a good lesson for us for this year."

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