Ravens fans show mettle in Steel City

Sports,Dave Carey

Wes Winters had a bull's-eye on him as soon as he parked his car at Heinz Field to see the Ravens play the Steelers for a berth in the Super Bowl.

The reason he was a target? He had the audacity to wear an Ed Reed jersey in Steel City.

"The Steeler fans were throwing snowballs at me," the 28-year-old from Westminster said. "But they throw like [Pittsburgh quarterback] Ben Roethilsberger so none hit me."

But Winters and hundreds of Ravens fans braved Steelers fans, snow and a frigid wind chill to cheer on their favorite team among a mostly black-and-gold-clad crowd of ?? at the AFC Championship Game.

Scott Wunder, 28, and Bob Albert, 25 also made the drive from Baltimore on Sunday morning, but had no problem dealing with Steelers fans.

"No one hassled us too much," said Albert, a Baltimore resident dressed in an Ed Reed jersey. "But it's because they know they are going to lose."

Wunder, a Baltimore resident sporting a Terrell Suggs jersey, agreed.

"We are going to win 27-0," he said. "They are the ones who are afraid."

The rivalry also created a tense atmosphere in a parking lot about 100 yards away, where 20-year-old Glenelg native Buddy Dinnis was grilling sausages and partying with several friends. Among the tailgaiters was his college sweatheart Jess Kaye, a 19-year-old die-hard Steelers fan and Pennsylvania native who attends Marshall University with Dennis.

"I haven't been the one giving him crap - he's been the one giving it to me," said Kaye wearing a Troy Polamalu jersey. "But the Steelers are going to win, so I am not worried about it."

Her boyfriend saw it differently.

"I got her tickets to the first game here earlier this season and liked the first three quarters of that game," Dinnis said of the Ravens' 23-20 overtime loss on Sept. 29. "After today, our relationship could be on the line."

Neal Moorhouse and Jessica Ropka made the five hour-drive to Pittsburgh with friends from Nobles, a bar in Federal Hill. Many members of their tailgate directly beside the stadium kept the Baltimore spirit alive by drinking National Bohemian beer - a Charm City favorite - amongst a throng of Steelers fans.

"We have been wearing our black and purple the whole time down here," Moorhouse, a 27-year-old Brooklyn Park resident, said. "When we went to Bob Evans for breakfast, everyone was starring at us and the cooks even came out of the kitchen. But we are supporting our team. We are representing Baltimore City."

"If they make it to Tampa we are going," Ropka, a 24-year-old from Catonsville, said of the team's chances to advance to the Super Bowl. "It's six hours closer than Miami so we can definitely drive."

But Moorhouse, who already has reserved a ticket for the big game in two weeks, had no doubt about making a trip to the Sunshine State on Feb. 2.

"We are here to see the Ravens go to the Super Bowl," Moorhouse said. "It's history."

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