OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- There once was a time when the Ravens-Steelers rivalry was fueled by hate.
The operative word now is respect.
Remember when Shannon Sharpe referred to Plaxico Burress as Plexiglas? Or when Pittsburgh receiver Hines Ward insisted the Ravens put out a bounty on him? How about the time when Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs claimed that Ward was "a dirty player, a cheap-shot artist?"
As the Ravens prepare for Sunday night's showdown in Pittsburgh, they've got nothing cruel to say about the Steelers. Quite the contrary, in fact.
"Hate is a strong word. We don't like them, but we definitely respect them," Suggs said Wednesday. "Even enemies can show respect. But on Sunday it's business. It's my city versus theirs, my team versus theirs. We're planning on bringing (a victory) home."
Both teams play tight defense, don't make a lot of mistakes and usually end up in the playoffs. It would be a lot easier to coexist if they were in a different division, but they both reside in the AFC North.
Sunday's game is for first place, and for Pittsburgh, it's about gaining a measure of revenge for a 35-7 thrashing in the season opener.
It's as important as it gets during the regular season, but as far as the Ravens are concerned, trashing the Steelers beforehand does not serve any purpose.
"It doesn't really matter because the game is going to be won on the field and not in the newspaper," Suggs said. "So it doesn't matter what either one of us says. It's about what we go out there and do."
Ravens cornerback Chris Carr called trash-taking "obsolete."
"It's Pittsburgh Week. They're going to be up for it, we're going to be up for it," Carr said. "So there's really nothing to say. Plus, that's not really our team's mentality. We don't really try to get people hyped up."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh puts no limitations on what his players say during the week and has no fear what might end up on the Pittsburgh bulletin board.
"That doesn't matter," Harbaugh said. "You can't motivate them any more; they can't motivate us any more. You've got two mature football teams. They've been in this game before. That stuff is way over-evaluated. It doesn't mean much."
The players agree.
"Coach Harbaugh treats us like men," guard Marshal Yanda said. "We can say whatever we want to say, but we don't because of the respect factor.
"They're our rivals. We want to beat them and they want to beat us," Yanda said. "But you definitely respect those guys over there because they're a lot like us in a lot of ways as far as tough defense, tough guys, physical guys, guys that get after it. We're a lot alike. Once in a while you'll get a guy that wants to get that trash-talk aspect going, but really, the game is hyped up enough so nothing needs to be said."
Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis laughed when reminded of Sharpe's comment about Burress.
"You always have to wonder where those comments come from," Lewis said. "It don't matter who says what, it don't matter how they say it. The whistle has to be blown Sunday night, and they know what we bring and we know what they bring, so here we go with another rival."
That's not to say the teams will shake hands before the kickoff and wish each other the best of luck.
"There's a lot of hostility between the two teams, but we do respect the way they play," linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "When we get on the field we're going to be talking pretty good, but going into a game it doesn't motivate you any more. I'm not going to try to talk myself into playing better."
Someone told Suggs on Wednesday that the Steelers, perhaps in a show of mutual respect, said they feared what Suggs might do Sunday after sacking quarterback Ben Roethlisberger three times in that 35-7 rout in September.
"I don't think they fear me at all," he said. "I wasn't the first guy to have three sacks and I won't be the last. It's all part of their little game. 'Oh, we fear Suggs.' Those dudes don't fear anybody, just like we don't."