The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals have provided a number of memorable clashes in recent years. A playoff meeting in 2006 put the rivalry on the map.
Over 15 years removed from their most recent playoff appearance, Cincinnati (11-5, 5-1 in the AFC North) was finally set to play meaningful January football. Not since squaring off against Warren Moon and the Houston Oilers in 1991 had the Bengals won a postseason game. The Pittsburgh Steelers were there only to crash the party.
While the feeling between the teams was described by Jim Nantz as being “an inherent dislike,” Cincy dared the reviled Steelers (11-5, 4-2) step foot into Paul Brown Stadium for the teams’ first-ever postseason meeting.
A little over a month prior, such a meeting seemed improbable. In the season’s 13th week, the Bengals had just claimed the AFC North lead, improving to 9-3 with a 38-31 triumph at Heinz Field. Roethlisberger and the Steelers, after their third consecutive loss, had fallen to 7-5 with their postseason prospects slimming.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Cincinnati’s second-leading pass-catcher that season, had to take a seat, though. Following the hard-fought victory, he, with his long and wavy black tresses resting on his back, had to hold a beloved yellow cloth in both hands. And, worst of all, he had to pull it back and forth over the dirt on his black cleats.
From then on, a Bus struck Brian Urlacher. Then, the Vikings, as if still taking a boating trip on Lake Minnetonka, had a six-game winning streak broken. The Browns, unsurprisingly, were shut out. Finally, lions were tamed.