Has Bengals-Steelers Gone To Another Level?

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Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals strong safety Shawn Williams (36) hits Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Markus Wheaton (11) during the second quarter in the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals strong safety Shawn Williams (36) hits Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Markus Wheaton (11) during the second quarter in the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Bengals and Steelers are getting ready for another season of hard knocks. Will it be over the top, as usual?

Rivalries are the backbone of sports. The competition is fierce and in-your-face scary, when it comes to certain teams. The Cincinnati Bengals have bad blood with a certain team from the northeast. There’s nothing short of mental warfare going on, anytime the teams meet. Who’s the opponent? The Pittsburgh Steelers are the usual suspects. Both teams have elevated their level of hatred to DEFCON 1. 

The time has come for the talking to be done on the field.

There has always been a rift between the Bengals and Steelers. The series has been heated, since Paul Brown brought the Orange and Black to the shores of the Queen City. But, there was a turning point that most Old School Bengals fans remember. It was the defining moment that took the rivalry to new heights. 

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During a Monday Night Football game, the burners were turned to high. October 10, 1983 is a day that will live in infamy. Ken Anderson was part of a proud Bengals team that was fighting for a playoff berth. Early in the first quarter of the battle, defensive end Keith Gary grabbed Anderson’s face mask, twisted it – a la Linda Blair in The Exorcist – and slammed him to the turf. That play ended Anderson’s season and the Bengals’ chance at turning their season around. Yet, it was the catalyst for the hatred evident today.

Younger fans may look at the Kimo von Oelhoffen incident as the key to Steelers dislike. But nothing gets the blood boiling like seeing Anderson lying on the ground…motionless. He eventually left the field, under his own power, but that was the beginning of numerous cheap shots against the Bengals.

Last year, fans saw the rivalry take on a new dimension. Both teams inflicted injuries that eventually played a huge part in their postseason failures. Is this the way it’s going to remain? Are the Bengals and Steelers destined to be the WWE highlight of each season? Both teams are much too talented for the madness. Yes, it’s entertainment. But, the insanity isn’t good football.

This year’s edition of the Bengals seems to be focused. The attention is on personal growth and how to get the Lombardi to Cincinnati. The social media interaction has been scarce. But, talk about “rings” and Super Bowl LI have been all the rage.

Safety George Iloka may have summed it up best. He echoed the words of head coach Marvin Lewis. The time has come for the talking to be done on the field.

“That’s the end of it. That’s what he told us to tell y’all, that was the end of it,” Iloka insisted, via Cincinnati Bengals.

"“A lot of guys moved on from it like a month or two after the season. So that was more so speaking points for the media, like listen, we’re not talking about the past. We’re just answering questions about the future.”"

The future looks brighter than usual. If the Bengals keep things in perspective, the hatred won’t hinder their performance. DEFCON 1 could soon become Super Bowl number three, for the Men in Stripes.

Next: Not Tom Brady?!

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