Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Most Ferocious Rivalry in Football?
By Sean O'Donnell | Yahoo! Contributor Network – Wed, Jun 19, 2013
COMMENTARY | The Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers have been division rivals since 1970. Their inaugural game was played at Three Rivers Staduim -- the Steelers defeated the Bengals 21-10. This rivalry was not always the main focus of these two teams, however.
The "Battle of Ohio" has been the historic series for the Bengals as they take on in-state rival Cleveland Browns. Both of these teams were founded by Paul Brown and this rivalry contains the most history for Cincinnati.
Even the Steelers have a longer standing rivalry with the Browns, having played them prior to the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.
So, why is the rivalry between the Bengals and Steelers so vastly intense presently?
During the years in which the Bengals suffered as a team, they were still able to give the Steelers fits. In 1999, the Bengals finished a mere 4-12. Although, two of their four wins came from sweeping the Steelers.
This is a prime example of why the Steelers do not look favorably upon the Bengals.
The Bengals and Steelers have some similarities which contribute to the bitterness between the teams.
Both teams have lost two Super Bowls -- the only teams in the AFC North to do so. Each team knows what it is like to come so close to a championship only to fall short. It can be conceived that this attributes to each team's toughness on the field.
However, the Steelers have won the most Super Bowl titles of any NFL team -- a feat that would make an opposing divisional team rather bitter.
The Super Bowl win that stung the Bengals most was in 2005.
The Bengals owned the most dynamic offense in the NFL that season behind a red-hot Carson Palmer. On Palmer's first passing attempt of these team's first playoff battle, Steelers defensive tackle Kimo Von Oelhoffen hit Palmer low, tearing his ACL and MCL.
Palmer completed that pass to the late Chris Henry for 66 yards. However, he was taken out of the game and the Steelers came away with a 31-17 victory as a result.
To this day, there is a heated ongoing debate about the intent of that hit on Palmer between these team's fan bases.
Steelers head coach Bill Cowher added insult to injury after the win against the Bengals and lead his players in a mocking chant in the locker room after the game (via CBSSports.com).
Cowher triumphantly asks "Who Dey?" -- as in, "Who Dey Think Gonna Beat Dem Bengals?" -- and Steelers players respond, "We Dey!"
This may have been well deserved after former Bengals players made different uses of the Steelers' Terrible Towel prior to the game. Chad Johnson used it as a bib during interviews and T.J. Houshmandzadeh used it to clean his cleats after a game.
Even so, the Bengals already disliked the Steelers, but at that point, those feelings intensified.
During his rehab after the 2005 playoff injury, Palmer was featured in Sports Illustrated. He was asked about the rivalry with the Steelers.
"I hate the Steelers more than I hate UCLA."
That quote is really saying something coming from a former USC quarterback.
Since 2005, the rivalry seemed to rise to new heights. The very next season, the Bengals were heading into a Week 17 game against the Steelers and needed a win to clinch a playoff berth.
The game went into overtime and ended as quickly as it began as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hit wide receiver Santonio Holmes for a 67-yard touchdown to beat the Bengals 23-17.
Flash forward now to 2009. The Bengals came out of nowhere to sweep the Steelers along with the rest of the division for the first time in team history. However, the Bengals did not fare well against the rest of the NFL -- they finished 4-6 -- which lead to some harsh feeling between these teams once again.
Finally, last season these teams were in a deadlock to make a playoff appearance heading into Week 16. The team that won the game would earn a playoff berth -- the loser would have their season ended.
This was one of the most defensively contested games in recent memory as both teams refused to give any advantage to their opponent. The game ultimately ended after a Roethlisberger pass was intercepted, leading to a Bengals game-winning field goal as time expired.
This was the last time these teams met.
They will meet again in Week 2 of 2013 -- Monday Night Football. There has been no love lost between these teams since last season and fans can expect a highly-contested matchup between these two bitter rivals.
The Steelers currently lead this rivalry by a score of 53-33. The Bengals will be looking to close that gap.
Get your popcorn ready.