As it stands right now, the Pittsburgh Steelers have next to no shot at catching the Baltimore Ravens to win the AFC North Division. They already sit three games behind the 5-1 Ravens and look nothing more than a mediocre football team on a week-to-week basis.
The good news is that the Steelers still get two cracks at their division-leading rivals this season, but the bad news is that those two games won’t be the same.
Not with the news that Ravens’ linebacker Ray Lewis has been lost for the season.
Most Steelers’ fans hate Lewis and it is understandable why. He’s the face of their biggest rival and it’s natural to point the hate at Lewis.
I on the other hand love watching Lewis play the game. Sorry Steelers fans, but he’s the best linebacker to ever play the game and has defied logic to the point that he can remain playing at a high level this late in his career. I love the passion that Lewis brings to the game week in and week out.
But despite the way I feel about Lewis’ place in history, it’s good to root against him when the black and gold takes on Baltimore twice (sometimes three times) per season.
However, for the first time since 1998 a Steelers-Ravens battle will take place without either Lewis or Hines Ward in the game.
Ravens’ fans directed much of their hate towards the Steelers because of Ward’s hard-nosed style of play. The Steelers came to grips a couple of seasons ago with Ward playing a lesser role due to his lack of production, but that didn’t stop Ravens fans for still directing the hate towards Pittsburgh.
The same goes for Lewis. Steelers fans knew they would be without Ward this season, but despite the way the season has gone to date, keeping Lewis away from another ring could be a silver lining on what could end up being a disappointing season.
Of course it’s a team game and Lewis and Ward weren’t the only reasons these two teams hate each other. Being good teams fighting for the division title year in and year out is enough to fuel any rivalry.
But it sure will be strange watching these two teams play Nov. 18 without Lewis or Ward playing a role in the outcome.
It won’t be the same.