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Harbaugh: Steelers-Ravens rivalry takes you to “dark place”

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 11: The Pittsburgh Steelers offense lines up against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half of the season opener at M&T Bank Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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There’s just something different about Ravens-Steelers.

I’ve called it the best rivalry in the NFL more than once because the games between the two AFC North rivals are always intense, memorable, and meaningful.

In a conversation with NFL.com’s Albert Breer, Ravens coach John Harbaugh puts the matchup in perspective.

“It’s almost surreal,” Harbaugh said. “All of a sudden, everything’s different. You go into this dark place. It’s like you’re in this globe, in a good way, and suddenly there’s nothing outside of that moment, outside of that stadium.

“It’s unique to these games, and yet, both teams are so comfortable in that place. It’s where we’re supposed to be. It’s where they’re supposed to be. It’s hard to describe.”

That did the trick pretty well.

Part of football’s appeal: It can sometimes be played in a dark place. The Ravens and Steelers matchup embody the game’s mix of hitting, toughness, and competitive play at the highest level. It’s a blast to watch.

Week One’s matchup didn’t live up the rivalry’s usual high standards. This one means more.

Something tells me Sunday night will be different.