The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals have an interesting rivalry, and the teams will meet again on Sunday for the first time this season.
History of the Rivalry
The Steelers-Bengals rivalry dates back to 1970, when the two teams became division rivals. Their first game was on Nov. 2, 1970. The Pittsburgh Steelers won that matchup by a score of 21-10.
Aside from 1982, when NFL players went on strike, the teams have played twice a year since then.
The Steelers have dominated the rivalry for years, leading with a record of 64-35 in the regular season.
With both teams being in the AFC North, they have a few players and coaches in common. James Harrison played mostly for the Steelers, but was signed as a free agent by the Bengals and played there for one year (2013).
Marvin Lewis was Cincinnati’s head coach from 2003-2018, but worked as Pittsburgh’s linebackers coach from 1992-1995. Dick Lebeau switched back and forth a few times, serving as defensive coordinator for both teams and as head coach of the Bengals from 2000-2002.
Although the rivalry is not quite as historic as the Bengals-Browns or Steelers-Ravens rivalries, it has become more intense over the last few years. Many Bengals fans even consider the Steelers to be bigger rivals than the Cleveland Browns.
Increased Tension Between the Teams
Over the past several years, there have been countless incidents on the field between these two teams. Most of them happen to involve former Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
In 2015, former Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell was in his prime. When he suffered an MCL tear on a play in which he was tackled by Burfict, many Steelers players were angry with the way he celebrated.
This was only the beginning of the drama with Burfict and members of Pittsburgh’s offense.
In Jan. 2016, Burfict had another dangerous hit on Steelers star wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Brown was knocked out and later diagnosed with a concussion, while Burfict was called for a personal foul.
Burfict took to social media after that game to criticize the referees, as well as some Steelers linebackers.
The Steelers offense got their revenge on Burfict in 2017, when wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was suspended for one game after a hit that knocked Burfict out of the game.
Burfict was fined $112,000 for hits on Brown and running back James Conner in 2018.
Steelers and Bengals Meet Again This Week
This year’s rivalry between the Steelers and Bengals might look a little different.
Cincinnati now has quarterback Joe Burrow, who has made a significant difference for the team’s offense in 2020.
“[Burrow]’s physical talents are one thing, and you know, they’re rock solid,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said in his weekly press conference. “This guy can make every throw. His accuracy is exceptional. He’s a good decision maker; he’s a fluid decision maker. His mobility is really underrated.”
Pittsburgh has had a few COVID-19 issues this week after tight end Vance McDonald tested positive. McDonald traveled with the team and played against the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday.
Tomlin impressed with how his guys have responded to the Covid-19 situation throughout the season:
"I think our attitudes will define our level of success in terms of dealing with this. … it's cool to see it come to fruition. Can't say enough about the guys in that regard."
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) November 10, 2020
Roethlisberger was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, but will be cleared to play as long as he tests negative throughout the remainder of the week.
The Steelers and Bengals will kick off at Heinz Field on Sunday at 4:25 p.m.
Featured Image Courtesy of Cincy Jungle.
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