Steelers vs. Bengals Rivalry Could See “Changing Of The Guard” Tomorrow


December 4, 2011; Pittsburgh,PA, USA: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Isaac Redman (33) carries the ball against Cincinnati Bengals defenders Kelly Jennings (23) and Frostee Rucker (center) and Reggie Nelson (right) during the second quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 35-7. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USPRESSWIRE

As crucial as earning a win in Monday night’s game will be for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cincinnati Bengals will be looking to turn around two decades of domination at the hands of their division rival.

How much has Pittsburgh dominated Cincinnati since 1991?

After they spent much of the 1980’s as the Bengals’ door-mats (6-13 record), the Steelers have logged a 33-12 record against their divisional foes including a 31-17 victory over Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium in the A.F.C. Wild Card game in January of 2006.  For those of you playing the “home game,” that is a .733 winning percentage overall.

The Bengals however have accumulated talent and have definitely made this rivalry less “one-sided” in recent seasons.  During the past four years (2009-2012), Cincinnati has won the same amount of division titles as Pittsburgh (one), made more postseason appearances (three to two), and have posted a decent 3-5 mark against them.

No longer the “Bungles,” Cincinnati has become a legitimate threat in the A.F.C. while Pittsburgh looks to in the midst of what appears to be a long rebuilding process.

Some of Cincinnati’s players already know how significant that the upcoming game against Pittsburgh will be, and they are looking to turn the tide of the rivalry while they get back into the A.F.C. North race with a victory. Many Bengals understand the magnitude of Monday’s game, and some recently shared their thoughts on the subject with Ralph N. Paulk of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

"We need to beat the Steelers.  We understand we have a lot of talent on this team.  We don’t want to let each other down.  We’re going out with the attitude we can win every game.  We have to learn from the Chicago game, which is something we hadn’t done in the past. (Michael Johnson) I think everyone understands we have a lot at stake, … We have a chance to make a run, but at the end of the day you can’t make a run if you don’t win. (Vontaze Burfict)"

With Pittsburgh’s struggles in mind, the present represents the perfect time for the Bengals to “pounce” and take charge of what has been a largely “one-sided” rivalry during the last two decades.  The Steelers look like and play a team that will finish with a sub-.500 record for the first time in close to a decade and a half, and I am sure that the Bengals understand that they can tip the “rivalry scales” in their favor right now.

As a team on the rise and ascending in the wide-open A.F.C., Cincinnati now has the opportunity to take control of their division with a victory in tomorrow night’s game.  Most importantly though, a dominating victory on their own home field over Pittsburgh could “change the guard” of the Steelers vs. Bengals rivalry for the foreseeable future.

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