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lamberts-lost-tooth 10-28-2007 07:30 AM

Cinci-nasty? The numbers hardly live up to the rivalry status
 
Cinci-nasty? The numbers hardly live up to the rivalry status
Sunday, October 28, 2007
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


There's no place like home for the Steelers, but if there were, Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati would be near the top of their list.

The Steelers (4-2) can win their seventh straight game in the home of the Bengals (2-4) when they kick off today at 1 p.m. The only other place they've had that kind of success is Cleveland, where they won their season opener for their seventh straight in that city.

Do the Steelers own PBS?

"Since I've been here, we have,'' linebacker Larry Foote said. "I've never lost there."

Foote is 6 for 6, including a playoff game, in Cincinnati since he came to the Steelers in 2002. The Bengals moved into PBS in 2000

and the Steelers have lost just once in eight games there, 26-23 in overtime in 2001.

The series between these two teams was labeled "The Nastiest Rivalry in the NFL" on the cover of Sports Illustrated after the Bengals beat the Steelers in Heinz Field, 28-20, last year.

But if it's nasty, it's also been one-sided. Although the Steelers have lost each of their games at home to the Bengals the past two seasons, they have won 11 of their past 15 against them, including in overtime at Cincinnati in the season finale last season that knocked the Bengals out of a playoff berth.

It long was a rivalry, going back to the AFC Central days in the 1970s when current Steelers quarterbacks coach Ken Anderson was throwing the ball around in the West Coast offense of the Bengals. There also were times in the 1980s when after games Chuck Noll refused to shake the hand of Bengals coach Sam Wyche, whom the Steelers derisively called Wicky Wacky.

The rivalry only turned nasty when Cincinnati won the AFC North in 2005 at 11-5 and the Steelers earned a wild-card berth at 11-5. The Steelers playoff trip came when they won their final four games after the Bengals seemed to knock them out in Heinz Field with a victory and Chad Johnson proclaimed, "It was Pittsburgh; it's Cincinnati now, and it'll probably be that way for awhile."

Then Kimo von Oelhoffen hit Carson Palmer in the knee, which tore the ACL of the Bengals quarterback and knocked him early from a playoff game the Steelers won, 31-17.

That the Steelers went on to win their fifth Super Bowl, a game never won by the Bengals, added to the strong feelings in Cincinnati. They became enraged when Bill Cowher mocked the Bengals' "Who Dey" chant at the victory parade in Pittsburgh.

Palmer said last year he hated the Steelers, and that sentiment remains today.

"We get excited for it,'' said mouthy Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson, who has toned down his routine as the losses piled up in Cincinnati. "It is what we call our chin-strap game because you are going to need two chin straps because it is always a physical battle every time we play Pittsburgh."

This could be a last stand for the Bengals. If they win, they're just a game out; if they lose, it might bury them for good.

As has been their tradition the past several seasons, the Bengals have their internal problems, from player suspensions to player unrest. There was a report that Johnson would be traded after the season. Coach Marvin Lewis denied it, but Johnson gave credence to it in an interview this past week with Pittsburgh media.

"There is always truth to everything that is written, always,'' Johnson said.

The Bengals fell hard since those high-flying days when they were division champions in 2005.

"I don't know what the reason is,'' Hines Ward said. "Chemistry? Watching them, I know the guys are arguing on the sideline and stuff. That's not very good, so who knows what really goes on in the locker room."

Despite the Bengals' record and their porous defense, the Steelers say they don't take for granted they'll add another notch to their belts in PBS.

"They have a lot of great ballplayers on their team,'' Ward said. "For the last couple years, you circle the Cincinnati game. In the past, in the early years, that was one of the games you knew those were gimme wins.''

Yet the Steelers have been so successful in PBS it's as if they christen it PittsBurgh Stadium when they play there.

Galax Steeler 10-28-2007 07:47 AM

Re: Cinci-nasty? The numbers hardly live up to the rivalry status
 
This should be a great game. I am hoping that johnson gets both of his chin straps knocked off.


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