“I hope so,” he answered. “You like to think the thing that defines rivalries are great games played by great teams over an extended period of time with a lot at stake and I feel that’s been the case in our rivalry with the Patriots. We feel honored to be considered a rival with them. I’m not sure how they feel about it but we sure feel that way."
By Harbaugh's criteria, it's pretty clear that the Patriots and Ravens are indeed rivals.
Last year, Baltimore beat New England both times they met; once in the regular season and the other time in the AFC championship. The regular season matchup came with some drama at the end, where the field goal at the end was put under a huge magnifying glass with the haphazard way the replacement referees were calling NFL games that year. Besides the "Fail Mary" fiasco with the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers, the lasting image of the replacement refs saga was Bill Belichick grabbing one of the referees after the loss in Baltimore, demanding an explanation of what just happened.
The other game wasn't terribly close, and was decided before the final whistle. In the AFC championship game, the Ravens dominated the Patriots to make their way to the Super Bowl and defeating the San Francisco 49ers.
Out of all the teams the Patriots play, it always seems the Ravens know how to figure them out, especially the way they fluster Tom Brady, making the offense ineffective.
The ability of Baltimore to stifle New England might cause fans to think of another team that seems to have their number - the New York Giants. This game Sunday has some major playoff implications for both teams. The Ravens will be a tough matchup, as they are winners of their last four (and making their patented late season playoff push); while the Patriots are still reeling from all their injuries to major players and their lackluster defense from all their injuries continues to be a glaring hole. As it always is with Baltimore, this game will certainly not be a walk in the park for New England.
Photos via tuscancitizen.com and sportsgooru.com