Different Feel to Bengals vs. Steelers this time around
Two bitter AFC North division rivals will square off Monday night, but the circumstances are different than what we have become accustomed to.
Bengals vs Steelers is an NFL rivalry that goes largely unnoticed on a national scale, but for Cincinnatians, hating the Steelers is like breathing. Given the Steelers current eight game win streak in the rivalry, the Bengals likely aren’t viewed the same way in Pittsburgh.
Both teams have been relatively successful in the last decade and change. The Bengals have reached the playoffs in seven of the last 14 seasons and the Steelers have never had a losing season under current head coach Mike Tomlin.
This is partly why Monday Night’s matchup is a little odd. With both teams sitting at 0-3, even the winner will have an uphill battle to make the playoffs. It is hard to remember the last time these two teams played where both teams are a lot closer to “playing for pride” as opposed to major impact in the standings. For the last 15 or so years, at least one of these teams has been “in it” every year. This time, both team’s seasons are dangerously close to being over already.
The other thing that has made the rivalry stand out over the years is it has gotten ugly. This dates all the way back to Carson Palmer’s knee injury in the playoffs following the 2005 season. The Bengals franchise has never really recovered. Moreover, some folks think Palmer was the victim of a Steelers cheap shot.
Ever since then, every Steelers/Bengals matchup has been filled with as many cheap shots and flags as points. The wild card playoff game after the 2015 season in Cincinnati was embarrassing for both teams. The Steelers won on a last second field goal setup by personal foul penalties on Adam Jones and Vontaze Burfict. Fans also cheered when Ben Roethlisberger was carted off the field injured. Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and Ryan Shazier all played a significant role in that night’s unfortunate madness as well.
The dislike is still there, at least on the Bengals side. However, with the entire cast of characters in the above paragraph no longer involved. Perhaps, Monday Night will produce a game that doesn’t leave fans and viewers feeling dirty enough to need a shower after it is over.