Patrick Queen grew up watching the Ravens-Steelers rivalry, loving everything about it. Now Baltimore's rookie linebacker is (literally) in the middle of it, and he can't wait.
"Hard-nosed football – that's about it," Queen said when asked about his recollection of those games.
"Growing up watching football, you don't know much about the game, but you just see all the emotions coming into it and the hard hitting. That's what the kids growing up really look at, how people play. That's the main thing I looked at growing up, was just how hard they hit and the energy that they brought to every game."
It's been a while since the Ravens-Steelers rivalry has really been a defensive slugfest. The last time at least one team didn't score 20 points was in 2013. The last time both teams were under 20 was in 2012.
That could potentially change this weekend with the Ravens and Steelers entering the game with two of the NFL's best defenses. Not only are they two of the stingiest in points allowed, but they're also two of the most disruptive with turnovers and sacks.
"That's what you live for – a defensive game," Queen said. "I know football, everybody wants to see high scoring games now. But at the end of the day, I like holding people to three points, no points, whatever it is. It's a sign of dominance.
"I'm pretty sure that's what everybody's mindset is right now; just going into this game, trying to dominate them. Like I said, they have a great team. I know what we do and what they do on defense, so it's going to be a great game."
Queen has gotten stronger as the season has progressed. He was the AFC's Defensive Player of the Week two weeks ago after causing a fumble and returning another for a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals. But legends are made against the Steelers.
Last year, Pittsburgh first-round inside linebacker Devin Bush made a spectacular interception deep down the field when he took the ball away from tight end Nick Boyle. That play early in Bush's rookie season catapulted him onto a fantastic year.
This year, Bush is sidelined by a season-ending knee injury and Queen will be the new big-time defensive rookie on the field.
While much of the talk leading into the game will be about the defenses, Bush will have his hands full with the Steelers' bevvy of offensive talent, led by 38-year-old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. When Roethlisberger played his first NFL game in 2004 in relief of Tommy Maddox, Queen was just 5 years old.
"They're a great team. Like all the other players, I'm just ready to go play," Queen said. "I'm ready to go get after them. I know about the rivalry, so it's going to be a fun game. I can't wait – they've got great, great, great players. [They have] players who a lot of people look up to and stuff. So, it's going to be fun to actually go against those guys now."