OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Wide receiver Mike Wallace has played for both the Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers, so he has a greater appreciation than most for the epic AFC North rivalry that will be renewed in prime time at Heinz Field Dec. 10.
Wallace, drafted by the Steelers in the third round in 2009, played four seasons for Pittsburgh before moving on to the Miami Dolphins. He is in his second season with the Ravens and says the Ravens-Steelers rivalry is grounded in equal parts hatred and respect.
When he was with the Steelers, Wallace said, there was definitely "hate" for the Ravens. "You just hate 'em because you know how hard it is to beat 'em and vice versa," he said. "But it's big-time respect."
Since 2008, when John Harbaugh became the Ravens' head coach, the teams are 11-11 against each other. The Steelers won the first meeting between the teams this year, 26-9, in Week 5, their second straight win in the series. In the last meeting at Heinz Field, the Steelers won 31-27 on Christmas last year, with wide receiver Antonio Brown lunging across the goal line with nine seconds remaining to knock the Ravens out of playoff contention.
In the first meeting between the teams last season, Wallace had a 95-yard touchdown catch -- the longest play from scrimmage in Ravens regular-season history -- during a 21-14 Ravens victory.
The Ravens (7-5) take a season-high three-game winning streak to Pittsburgh, while the Steelers (10-2) have won seven in a row and would clinch the AFC North title with a win.
The Ravens' struggling offense is coming off its best performance of the season during a 44-20 win against the Detroit Lions Dec. 3. The Ravens established season-bests with 269 passing yards and 370 yards of offense in that game, and Wallace had five catches for 116 yards.
Still, Wallace said that game is behind them.
"Last week is not going to help us," Wallace said. "Two, three weeks ago is not going to help us. … I don't know about other guys, but myself, I don't believe in momentum. … I believe in lining up Sunday and being ready to play."
Wallace had the two most productive seasons of his career with the Steelers, with a career-best 1,257 receiving yards in 2010 and 1,193 yards in 2011.
"When I was there I had a great time," Wallace said. "It was a great organization to play for. I'm where I am today because of the opportunity of playing there. So there's never going to be any hate. But at the same time, I play for the Ravens, so Sunday night I want to make plays for the Ravens."
RAVENS PRAY FOR SHAZIER: Harbaugh said the Ravens held a team prayer Dec 6 for Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, who remains hospitalized in Cincinnati after suffering a spinal injury against the Bengals Dec. 4. "You just pray for a person like that," Wallace said. "You never want to see that happen to anybody. Doesn't matter what team he's on. We're all one family, one NFL family at the end of the day. … We said a prayer for him on our team, and he plays for the Steelers, so you know it's bigger than football."
HEINZ FIELD IS FLACCO'S FAVORITE ROAD VENUE: Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said there is no road venue he likes more than Heinz Field. "I don't know if it was always like that," Flacco said, "but ... as I've played up there over the years it's grown into a place that, yeah, it's tough to beat as far as places to play on the road." Flacco is 4-3 in his past seven games at Heinz Field, with eight touchdown passes and three interceptions.
"This game's always awesome," Flacco said. "It's a ton of fun to go play up there. We've played up there a bunch now, and the more you go up there the more you enjoy it and enjoy the atmosphere. It's a fun football game. It's a good old-fashioned football game that you love to be a part of."
WEDDLE HONORED: Safety Eric Weddle has been named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his role in the Ravens' win against the Lions. Weddle had a strip-sack that led to a Ravens touchdown in the second quarter, then returned an interception for a touchdown for the game's final score. Weddle has 52 tackles and leads the Ravens with five interceptions, which is tied for second in the league. It is the first such honor of Weddle's career, and the first time a Ravens safety won the weekly honor since Ed Reed in 2010.