The Bengals are in a wild race for AFC North dominance. Cincinnati could learn a few things from the Ravens on dominating the Steelers.
With the luxury of a Week 9 bye, hopefully, the Bengals made the changes necessary to come out fighting in Week 10. The tie with Washington at Wembley Stadium left a bitter taste with both fans and players. Now, the mission is to regain control of the weak and frail AFC North. The Baltimore Ravens gave Cincinnati a handout, by beating the Steelers. Bengals coaches and players should learn from that battle.
Baltimore’s thrashing of the Steelers left each team at 4-4 and gave the Bengals new life in the division. The game was probably the most watched event of the day for anyone supporting the Orange and Black. Ben Roethlisberger looked shaky. His surgically repaired knee didn’t seem to bother him but he was rusty. Roethlisberger was able to improvise at the end of the game but the Ravens defense came through.
What is it about Baltimore that Pittsburgh can’t figure out? The final score of 21-14 wasn’t that close for three-and-a-half quarters. At one point, the Ravens were ahead 21-0 and the Steelers looked lost on all levels. How have the Bengals’ enemy in purple learned to dominate those Yinzers?
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The Record Speaks Volumes
In the NFL, it’s all about the W’s. The way you win isn’t as important as getting in the column on the left-hand side. Lately, the Bengals have had trouble with the guys from Pennsylvania. It’s easy to feel that Bengals Pride and languish in Who Dey heaven. But, the truth hurts. When Steelers players say it’s really not a rivalry, they’re not going by feelings. They’re relying on facts.
"“I’d still say the Ravens. We’ve got to beat them. We beat Cincinnati. We have to beat the Ravens. It’s been like that every time. That’s not going to be a focal point. We’re taking one game at a time, but especially with those two teams we have to beat them in the division.”"
Tuitt’s statement got Bengals fans and players heated. But, the truth hurts. Going back 10 games, the Ravens have walloped the Steelers. Baltimore owns a 7-3 edge in the series. The Ravens’ latest win extended their mastery over the Stilluhs to four straight games.
How are the Bengals doing in that area? To quote Charles Barkley…just turrable. In the last 10 games against the Steelers, the Bengals are the exact opposite of Baltimore. Cincinnati is a pathetic 3-7 against their “rival.” In fact, the Men in Stripes have blown four of the last five and have a three-game losing streak. That’s not much of a rivalry.
Cincinnati has a better rivalry with Baltimore. The series is tied 20-20 and Marvin’s Men have won five in a row.
What Makes Bengals-Steelers A Rivalry?
If head-to-head matchups are supposed to be an indicator of the intensity, that’s not a huge help. The last time the Bengals showed any dominance in the series was 2009. That year, Cincinnati swept the division and showed signs of becoming a force. The Bengals’ only other sweep was in 1998. Truly, the only thing that makes the game interesting is the bitterness and animosity between the teams.
Helmets get ripped off, players get stepped on, spit flies and social media blows up with rants about unfair refs. There’s also an occasional injury. Other than that, it’s typically a Steelers win.
The Ravens and Pitt? Well, the all-time series is in favor of the Steelers 24-21. Cincinnati is on the losing end of a 59-35 series record with Pittsburgh.
The AFC North will be won by either the Bengals, Steelers or Ravens. The division has no standout team for 2016. There’s lots of football to be played between now and January.
If the Bengals plan on playing beyond December, coaches and players need to learn from Baltimore. It’s not about tweets, memes, and quotes…it’s about dominating a team and gaining respect. Simply treat Pittsburgh like Baltimore. Then it’ll be a real rivalry.