Bengals’ running back Jeremy Hill is seeking revenge on Pittsburgh for playoff fumble. Sunday will be his chance to make things right.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis may be avoiding talk of the 2015 playoff loss, but it’s on everyone’s mind. Specifically, running back Jeremy Hill, whose fumble in the fourth quarter gave possession back to Pittsburgh, allowing them to win the game on a last-second field goal.
After a heartfelt tweet followed the 18-16 loss, Hill has shown the willingness to put the fumble behind him. In the Bengals’ second preseason game, he scored from nine yards out to put Cincinnati up, 7-3. What did he do next? Ran to the referee, handed him the ball, then ran back to the sidelines. The Barry Sanders-like touchdown celebration is a sign of maturity for the third-year running back.
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Last week against the Jets, Hill ran the ball just nine times. But, his 12-yard scoring dash in the third quarter gave Cincinnati a 20-16 lead. Once again, Hill found the official, tossed him the pigskin and joined his teammates on the sidelines. On that same scoring scamper, you can see Hill covering the football with two hands — smart.
If you think Hill isn’t remembering that playoff loss with each passing carry, you’re wrong.
In the loss to Pittsburgh, Hill was one of the most emotional players on the field. When Steelers players celebrated Giovani Bernard laying on the ground after being struck in the head by Ryan Shazier, Hill charged to midfield to confront them all by himself.
In the second half, the LSU-product had a 38-yard run and scored the Bengals’ first touchdown. Despite averaging over five yards-per-touch (12 carries, three receptions), Hill is most remembered for the lost fumble, and that’s stuck with him the past eight months.
Now, the Bengals and Steelers meet up for their first rematch since that fateful January night. In Pittsburgh, with both teams opening their season with victories on the road.
If Jeremy wants to make an impact on this game, he has to overcome a Steelers team that has contained him so far. In five career games against Pittsburgh, he has averaged just 54.4 yards per contest. However, Hill’s last 100-yard performance came in a 27-17 loss to Pittsburgh in the 2014 season finale.
Over the last two seasons, no running back has scored more than Hill. So we will miss his rendition of the “Ickey Shuffle” and other celebratory dances. But as he told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, “I’m not celebrating this year. I just want to get better and help my team.”
Those comments by Hill proves that he is strictly business in 2016, something that should please Bengals’ fans.
Although the antics were fun to witness, this isn’t 2003-2008 and Chad Johnson. Fans are watching the Bengals this season because they want to see a Super Bowl contender, not a touchdown celebration.
The Bengals’ locker room can try to disguise it all they want, but January 9th still looms in their mind.
They know they will get Pittsburgh’s best. Yes, the crowd will be louder than usual. They know there will be after-the-whistle activity. And Jeremy Hill knows he’s going to get the chance to redeem himself from a fumble that still haunts him.