Smashmouth just doesn't seem strong enough. Yankees-Red Sox ... on steroids? Ali-Frazier in pads? Redskins-Cowboys -- the good old days? Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs labeled it "World War III."

Saturday's Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers game is the steel-cage match of the NFL playoffs. Sunday's game between the New York Jets and New England Patriots may be a war of words, but Ravens-Steelers is old-school football in which merely surviving is winning.

It's a blood feud, born from the Ravens' ancestors in Cleveland who moved to Baltimore in 1995. Cleveland-Pittsburgh was one of the NFL's bigger rivalries, and the Ravens simply rebranded it. Charm City vs. Steel City -- two blue-collar cities hoping to turn the game into a black-and-blue throwdown.

This is what made the NFL great -- a throwback to the days when Washington dueled with the New York Giants and Dallas as if the losers would be executed, when Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota and Green Bay made it a four-way slugfest.

The NFL's all entertainment and big business nowadays, more about ratings and merchandising than anything else. Not to the Ravens and Steelers, though. In a time when free agency ended personal feuds and few players are synonymous with their franchises, it's still personal between these teams.

Without victory, let no one come back. Oh, George Patton would have loved coaching in this game.

That's why it's so compelling.

It has become a series of who delivers the last blow. Five of the last six regular-season meetings were decided by a field goal or less. The Steelers' four-point win in 2008 felt like a blowout.

The teams split this season. Pittsburgh's first loss was at home to Baltimore 17-14. Pittsburgh later gave Baltimore its only home loss of the season 13-10.

The Ravens broke Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's nose. That hit cost Baltimore defensive lineman Haloti Ngata $15,000, and it still didn't buy a victory. Baltimore coach John Harbaugh fueled Saturday's rematch by saying he was glad the Ravens hurt Roethlisberger.

That said, Harbaugh was impressed Roethlisberger still won. It's like Zulu warriors saluting British troops after they conceded defeat in 1879.

Roethlisberger returned the salute during a conference call Tuesday, saying, "As a competitor, yes, you love it, but heck no, I hate playing the Ravens."

And we haven't even discussed Ray Lewis yet. The toughest man in football will lead the Ravens' defense like it's on a mission in "Call of Duty."

Redskins coach George Allen once offered to fight Dallas counterpart Tom Landry at midfield for a victory. Surely Lewis would do the same. And there would be plenty of Steelers willing to dance.

The NFL nowadays is all about the fancy passing game, the 4.2-second speed, the deep playbooks and long hours spent in film rooms.

But the sport should never forget its true roots: smashmouth football. That's why it's the greatest sport. That's why this is a great matchup.

Examiner columnist Rick Snider has ?covered local sports since 1978. Read more at and on Twitter @Snide_Remarks or e-mail