The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals rivalry has become one of the best in the NFL over the last few years with both team’s consistent success and a very real hate for each other.
There are plenty of rivalries in the NFL. The Patriots and Jets, Bears and Packers, Cowboys and Redskins have been rivalries that are deemed some of the best in the league. Naturally, every team seems to have one team in their division that they have a ‘rivalry’ with, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they hate the other team. With Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, it’s not just a game, once the first kickoff commences, it’s war.
F0r years, the real rivalry in the AFC North was the Steelers and Ravens. Both two of the top teams in the league for years, they consistently played exciting, close games, and there never seemed to be one team that dominated the other. While that rivalry still stands, a new rivalry, and a potentially bigger rivalry has stepped into the limelight, and continues to grow.
Both teams have been very consistent over the last decade. The Bengals have received 7 straight playoff births, and Pittsburgh hasn’t had a losing season since 2003. Recently, when the two teams face off, it’s often the AFC North crown on the line.
It’s an interesting rivalry, because the Steelers have won most of the games for quite a while. Since 2010, the Steelers are 10-3 against the Bengals, and have won the last 5 out of 6. Despite that stat, the games are almost always close, and the tension always runs high.
In the last couple of years, this rivalry has really taken form. Ever since Le’Veon Bell went down in Week 17 of the 2014 season after a hit by the ‘Steeler Killer’, Reggie Nelson, this rivalry has seen blood shed, and fights break out far more than any other in the league.
On the Bengals defense, one man has recently taken the charge in the war against Pittsburgh. Vontaze Burfict has called out players, fans, and anyone associated with the Steelers multiple times. He played a part in Le’Veon Bell’s season ending injury, Ben Roethlisberger‘s playoff injury, and the start of plenty of vicious fights that have broken out during games.
Watching Landry Jones be picked off by Burfict in the Wild Card game this year, thinking he had just ended the Steelers’ season was nothing less than heart breaking, heart wrenching even. Just the thought of of him, of all people, and the Bengals, of all teams, ending Pittsburgh’s season, was beyond horrible.
Then, like a hollywood movie, the protagonist of Steeler nation, Ben Roethlisberger marched onto the field, putting aside the pain in his shoulder that Burfict had caused, and led the Steelers to victory. It was all so perfect.
That game, despite the never ending penalties, petty fights, controversy and confusion, was the perfect representation of the rivalry that is to come between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. No football game in my not so long lifespan has ever evoked so many emotions out of me. I don’t think there’s a single rivalry in the game of football today that can bring out that feeling in anyone.
Even in the offseason, the battle rages on, as Burfict and running back DeAngelo Williams recently duked it out over the internet, on twitter. The hate between these two teams isn’t something that is for show on the field, but it is real disgust and burning rage toward one another that creates an atmosphere like no other.
With the apparent reemergence of the Baltimore Ravens, it’ll be interesting to see how the rivalries in the AFC North evolve for the years to come. With that being said, the intensity shouldn’t die any time soon, and every Sunday that these teams meet, you can expect a close, hard hitting showdown between two of the best teams in the league.