Bengals’ matchup with Steelers could be something special
It’s not a do-or-die situation…yet. But, the Bengals matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers is an important game coming out of the Bye.
It’s just a few days away. That magical time is upon the Queen City and Bengals fans are ready for something different. The Men in Orange & Black have lost four straight to the Steelers. The last time the Bengals beat Pittsburgh, Marvin Lewis was still slightly loved and respected in the city of Cincy. Well, maybe not love. And maybe not that much respect. Anyway, the point is simple. A win at Heinz Field would be a huge confidence builder for Week 7 and beyond.
There’s something about Steelers Week that brings out the best and worst in people. But. to be honest, this isn’t about the fans as much as the players. This is a chance for the Bengals to shed that underdog status that has plagued them for so many years. This is about getting the respect that has eluded the franchise each time they knock heads with the Steelers.
Initially, when viewed from the standpoint of locale, this looks like a game that belongs to the guys from Pitt. But, that’s where you’re wrong. Marvin Lewis has actually had his team fired up for their trips to the Steel City.
Looking at Lewis’ tenure as the Bengals’ head coach may bring on headaches, but his record against the Steelers in their home isn’t that bad. Since taking over the HC duties in Cincy, Lewis is 6-8 in Pittsburgh. Are you shaking your head? You have that right. For some uncanny reason, the Bengals tend to play like champions when they visit the Steelers.
What Makes It Seem So Lopsided?
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If you’re not feeling impressed over Marv’s mastery in Pennsylvania, here’s the reason. That ho-hum attitude stems from the Bengals’ home record against their division rival. Under Lewis, Cincinnati is…2-15 against both Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin at Paul Brown Stadium. Two home wins in 14 years is enough to make any fan rabid with “hot seat” fever.
Just like Pitt makes the banks of the Ohio River their home, the Bengals tend to play better at Heinz Field. Each of Lewis’ wins there has been a nail-biter. The most recent–a 16-10 W in Week 8 of 2015–was a statement game that defined the Bengals’ season. They went on to lose the January 9 Wild Card game. But, the defensive gem in the first game of the series was a classic.
Need something else to make your hair stand on end? The Bengals didn’t post a home win against the Steelers until 2009. Almost a decade into his tenure, Lewis posted a 23-20 win at PBS.
How It Can Be Special
The Bengals are currently making their way back from a horrendous start. Sitting at 2-3, there’s a good chance that things can turn around. But, it has to start with beating Pitt on Sunday.
After the Bye Week in 2012, the Bengals were 3-4. Most fans had written them off and started thinking about draft picks. But, they went on to win seven of the last nine and made the postseason party.
Part of that joy was being able to knock the Steelers (8-8) from the playoffs. If the Men in Stripes can go on a similar run to end the season, Cincinnati would go wild. With the Bengals playing inspired football and Andy Dalton looking like The Ginger from his MVP campaign, this can happen.
If Lewis has the troops ready emotionally and OC Bill Lazor has an excellent game plan, the scene will be set for a pivotal rematch in Cincinnati. It’s not do-or-die, but a W would look good in the books.