Rookies to get thrown into fierce rivalry

PITTSBURGH -- A canvassing of veteran players in the locker room where they still aren't shooting pool reinforces the perception that you probably have to play in a Steelers-Ravens game to truly understand it.

As wide receiver Antonio Brown put it when asked if the Steelers rookies know what is in store for them Sunday: "I don't think they have a clue."

Allow Brett Keisel, who knows what Steelers-Ravens is about as much as anyone, to try and explain.

"Coming out of college you always have certain rivalries that you kind of gear up towards," Keisel said. "When I was at BYU it was Utah. This Steelers-Ravens rivalry is a whole lot bigger, a whole lot meaner, a whole lot nastier. It's a grudge match, it really is."

And back to Brown to provide context to what a grudge match between two teams that don't like each -- in part because they are so similar -- entails.

"Guys aren't going to pick you up [after a play], guys are going to give you an extra shove, guys are going to come out of the tunnel fired up," Brown said.

Running back Le'Veon Bell is at least somewhat familiar with the ethos of Ravens-Steelers.

He grew up in Columbus, Ohio, in a house filled with Steelers fans, and Bell said he always made it a point to watch Pittsburgh when it played Baltimore.

"I know how big the game is," Bell said. "I just haven't been a part of it yet. This is going to be like a bloodbath, two teams that really don't like each other."

It is also two teams that are perpetually fighting for the upper hand over one another. There is close and there is is Ravens-Steelers.

The teams have the same number of wins (11) as well as the same number of touchdowns (43) in the 22 games they have played since 2003, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

"It always seems to be close, it always seems to come down to the end, who made a mistake who didn't so hopefully we don't," Keisel said.

The only consolation that the losing team Sunday will have is that it doesn't have to wait until next season to exact payback.

Indeed, asked if there are any parallels between Steelers-Ravens and Michigan-Ohio State, former Buckeyes star Cameron Heyward said, "Just that we circle both on the calendar."

Then, the Steelers defensive end added, "Only this one you circle twice."