The Pittsburgh Steelers don’t particularly care for any of their AFC North foes, but nothing can match their disdain for the Baltimore Ravens. Over the years, the heated rivalry has delivered thrilling games played by some all-time great players. With Ben Roethlisberger likely retiring after the 2021 NFL season, an entertaining chapter will officially close.
Ben Roethlisberger’s last NFL game will likely be against the Ravens
Ben Roethlisberger took a victory lap around Heinz Field after defeating the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football to cap Week 17. It appeared to be the veteran quarterback’s last home game in a Steelers uniform.
Now, Big Ben could officially be playing his last NFL game ever in Week 18. If so, it’s only right that he match up against the Baltimore Ravens one final time.
Roethlisberger has faced Baltimore 26 times in his career. He’s gotten the better of his AFC North rivals, leading the all-time series 16-10.
The Miami (OH) product is in his 18th NFL season. The fact that he’s still playing is a testament to his toughness. Big Ben has been in some battles with the Ravens over the years, taking a massive amount of punishment in the process.
For the past two decades, the Ravens-Steelers rivalry has been one of the most recognizable across all sports. As much as these teams don’t like each other, each side has garnered respect over time.
The long-lasting duel between the two has featured many great players. Ravens legends Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs were at the heart of the rivalry. On the other side, guys like Joey Porter, Hines Ward, and Troy Polamalu brought a little something extra when playing against Baltimore.
Ben Roethlisberger is the last remaining pioneer in the NFL. Once he retires, it will be up to the current players to carry on the tradition.
The Week 18 matchup will have playoff implications
As if the 2021 season finale needed any more intrigue, the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers are two teams fighting for their playoff lives.
Both teams are on the outside looking in, but there’s a path for each to secure an AFC wild-card spot.
The Steelers are just ahead of the Ravens with a 7-7-1 record. Here’s what Mike Tomlin’s squad needs to clinch a playoff berth.
- Win vs. Ravens
- Colts loss to Jaguars
- Chargers-Raiders doesn’t end in a tie
Baltimore is sitting at 8-8, and its path to the postseason is a little more murky. John Harbaugh’s crew will need a lot of help. Here’s everything that must go right for the Ravens.
- Win vs. Steelers
- Colts loss
- Chargers loss to Raiders
- Dolphins loss to Patriots
Neither team is a shoo-in for the playoffs. Still, expect this matchup to be one of the more enjoyable games of the Week 18 slate, with both squads having something meaningful to play for.
Ironically, Baltimore will honor Terrell Suggs during the game
With the 2021 season finale likely being Ben Roethlisberger’s final game, the Baltimore crowd at M&T Bank Stadium is sure to be electric. In honor of Big Ben’s last hoorah, the Ravens invited his old friend, Terrell Suggs, to attend.
The team will honor Suggs pregame as the “Legend of the Game.” The retired 7-time Pro Bowl linebacker/defensive end knows Roethlisberger very well. He dedicated much of his Ravens career to trying to make life difficult for the Steelers’ quarterback.
Suggs still has fond memories of playing against Big Ben.
“Old Ben,” he told the Baltimore Sun. “Big Ben was very difficult to bring down, and it was fun going against him. He was always injured until it was time to play us, and then he magically heals and shows up for the game.”
The future Hall of Famer wasn’t surprised he got the call to be at Roethlisberger’s final game.
“Yeah, I know why I’m back,” said Suggs. “It’s the rivalry, Ben’s last game as a Steeler and all that.”
The Ravens legend sacked Big Ben 17 times in his career, more than any other player. It’s fitting that he be the team’s honoree before the big game. Perhaps his presence will give his former team an extra edge.
The stakes will be high when Baltimore and Pittsburgh take the field. Given the history between the two teams, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference