Foes of Steelers past exact revenge in Week 16 loss

Jared Wickerham

What goes around comes around in the NFL, and two Bengals players who factored in hugely to their 13-10 win over Pittsburgh in Week 16 had run-ins of sorts against Pittsburgh in the past.

Many moons ago, under different coaching with different players, the Steelers won Super Bowl XL on the speed of running back Willie Parker and the arm of wide receiver Antwaan Randle El.

In defeating the Seattle Seahawks 21-10, much ado was made out of other non-factors in that game. In Seattle's refusal to accept responsibility for the loss, kicker Josh Brown went relatively unscathed despite missing two field goals inside the kicker-friendly confines of Ford Field in Detroit.

Almost ironic that if Seattle had acted with integrity after that game, they may have blamed the kicker for not being within reach on their last drive.

Brown eventually left Seattle and ended up in St. Louis, where he kicked through last season. He's 8-for-8 in three games for the Bengals, inserting himself into hero status there.

When Bengals coach Marvin Lewis trotted Brown out to Heinz Field - arguably the most difficult kicking environment in the NFL (only six field goals of 50-plus yards have ever been made there since the stadium opened in 2001) - for a 56-yard attempt, many thought he was kidding, or had some kind of clock-related strategy.

No timeout was called, no trick play was run. He had Brown kick it. And he missed. Horribly.

A series after the Steelers tempted the fate of Heinz Field on their own (Shaun Suisham, who had been perfect at home leading into the game, missed from 53 yards), the Bengals got a huge contribution from another former Steelers foe.

Reggie Nelson, one of the many veteran castoffs on the Bengals roster, brawled with former Steelers receiver Hines Ward multiple times during a brutally aggressive 2007 wild card playoff game. They tussled in a regular season contest that same year as the Jaguars became the first team in 50 years to defeat the Steelers twice in Pittsburgh in the same season.

Nelson, wisely playing well off the line of scrimmage as the Steelers were trying to push into field goal range with 14 seconds left, but Steelers receiver Mike Wallace got under him, and was wide open past the first down marker at the sideline. Ben Roethlisberger badly overthrew Wallace, and right into the waiting hands of Nelson for the game - and season - sealing interception.

Ward had to have felt a pang of anger over seeing Nelson and the Bengals celebrate their first win over the Steelers since 2009.

Despite the massive amount of turnover from team to team each season, the NFL has a way of never letting go of certain grudges, and the Steelers now know they have a score to settle with Nelson - who hit Steelers TE Heath Miller on the side of his knee earlier in the game - and Brown, particularly as long as they're with the Bengals.


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