View Full Version : Palmer, Cowher turning Bengals vs. Steelers into real rivalry

09-23-2006, 11:24 PM
Palmer, Cowher turning Bengals vs. Steelers into real rivalry

AP Sports Writer

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- There's something different now about the Bengals-Steelers division rivalry, one that has rarely raised itself above the lukewarm level for 36 years. It's actually a real rivalry.

From Carson Palmer's "I hate the Steelers" mantra to Bill Cowher's appropriation of the "Who Dey" chant to the read-between-the-lines undertones regarding the Steelers' injuring of Palmer in the playoffs, it's obvious this is now a circle-the-calendar game.

To the Bengals (2-0), Sunday's game - the teams' first matchup since Palmer badly injured his left knee during Pittsburgh's 31-17 playoff victory in January - is a chance to validate their belief they are the AFC North's best team. That they could have won the Super Bowl, not the Steelers, if Palmer hadn't been hurt.

To the Steelers (1-1), it's chance to get their own play back to a championship level, which it hasn't been so far, and to quiet the talk that the balance of power in the division and maybe the AFC has shifted to Cincinnati.

"I won't say they're our biggest rival, but they've definitely made it a good rivalry now," Steelers linebacker Joey Porter. "It's about time they got it to the point where you can recognize it as a rivalry."

Especially since it's mostly been a tepid dislike until now, one that would only occasionally rear up with a good game here or a spicy comment there. But it's a clearly distinguishable one now after decades of domination by one or the other - the Steelers in the 1970s (14-5)- and 1990s (13-7), the Bengals in the 1980s (13-6).

That all changed when former Steelers defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen badly injured Palmer's knee by rolling across it following a 66-yard completion on Cincinnati's first pass completion in the playoffs. Many Bengals felt the injury altered the outcome of the game, and there still seems to be some hesitation to accept von Oelhoffen's explanation there was no intent to injure - even if Palmer has absolved him.

"I was having personal battles with their coaching staff," Porter said that day. "They made it seem as if that play was intentional."

Von Oelhoffen wasn't penalized but, two months later, the NFL competition committee pushed through a rule banning onrushing defensive players from hitting quarterbacks below the knee.

If losing their star QB and their season wasn't bad enough, the Bengals also had to hear Cowher twice recite their signature "Who Dey" chant - once in the locker room after the game, and again during the Super Bowl victory celebration.

Cowher was seizing on the fact the Steelers overcame tough road obstacles and hostile, intense fans, but realized later he may have riled up the Bengals, who are 8-20 against Cowher-coached teams.

"When I say `Who Dey,' you say `We Dey,' " Cowher yelled to his players in Cincinnati.

The Bengals have a chance to respond Sunday.

"Everybody's talking, `It's Steeler week, it's Steeler week' " Palmer said. "I'm not sure if in Pittsburgh they're saying, `It's Bengal week,' but around here it means a lot to us."

Of course, Palmer's own avowed hatred of the Steelers turned up the intensity of the rivalry a notch, too, even if Porter isn't ready to say he feels the same way about Cincinnati.

"The rivalries we play with Baltimore, some face masks get ripped off and some people get stepped on," said Porter, who said the Bengals don't yet compare to the Ravens. "There are a lot of dirty things that go on in that game. That's a true dislike."

Palmer's remarkably fast return from his serious knee injuries obviously has meant a lot to the Bengals, who can start 3-0 in successive seasons for the first time in franchise history. He has thrown for 479 yards and two touchdowns, and now goes against a Steelers pass defense that has given up an uncharacteristically high 492 yards, the fifth most in the NFL.

However, the Bengals are banged up at receiver. Team mouthpiece Chad Johnson is getting over a concussion, Tab Perry - he of the 94-yard kickoff return against the Steelers in December - is out with a hip injury, and T.J. Houshmanzadeh has a sore heel. Houshmanzadeh has yet to play, and the Bengals practiced most of the week with only four healthy receivers.

The Steelers have worries of their own, with Ben Roethlisberger looking rusty in a 9-0 loss to the Jaguars on Monday, only their fourth shutout loss since Cowher took over in 1992.

Roethlisberger, playing in a real game for the first time since his motorcycle accident and his appendectomy, was limited to 141 yards passing. Even worse for the Steelers, it came on a night they ran for a Cowher-era low 26 yards. Willie Parker had only 20 yards after gaining 115 against Miami in the opener.

The Steelers also had a short week of preparation for a potentially pivotal game in defining which team has the edge in the division.

"It's not time to hit the panic button yet, but at the same time it's a must win," Porter said.


09-23-2006, 11:29 PM
Good read, this rivalry is getting heated

09-24-2006, 12:32 AM
Good read, this rivalry is getting heated

Oh and I'm loving it. Nothing beats a good rivalry. While I have zero respect for their so-called "fanbase", I do respect Carson Palmer and I enjoy watching him go head to head with Ben.

May the better team win today. :cheers:

09-24-2006, 01:19 AM
I dont, he is a little bitch just like the rest of the team and fans..... They will all be crying 25 years from now about last year.

09-24-2006, 09:42 AM
biggest rivalry in the nfl!