The players can’t stand one another, and neither can the fan bases.
It might be the ugliest, not the best, rivalry in all of sports at the moment, and it seems every time these two AFC North rivals face each other the injuries seem to mount.
Everyone remembers the last time these two teams squared off against one another. In a very important game, in Cincinnati, on December 4th was when Ryan Shazier was carted off the field with little-to-no feeling in his lower extremities, JuJu Smith-Schuster de-cleated Vontaze Burfict, knocking him from the game and eventually being dealt a one-game suspension, and George Iloka took a high shot at Antonio Brown which saw him get a one-game suspension, only to have it reduced to just a fine in the following days.
That was the last time these two teams met...until this Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, OH in Week 6.
While there may be some fans out there who actually enjoy the spectacle of the Steelers vs. Bengals, most players just want another hard fought game. A game which is tough, physical and hard-hitting, but not dirty. Think what the Steelers vs. Ravens rivalry has become as an example.
This is all Ben Roethlisberger wants too as he spoke to media Wednesday he talked about how he hopes the chippy play has been left in the past.
“You know, it’s AFC North football. It’s one of those game that can get chippy at times. You hope it doesn’t. You hope it’s just a hard-fought football game but sometimes it gets a little chippy. So, we’ll do our best to put all that in the past behind us and play like it’s a normal football game.”
Doing so might be easier said than done. With Vontaze Burfict back in the lineup for the Bengals after serving a 4-game suspension to start the season, Roethlisberger knows you have to be aware of where Burfict is on the field.
“He’s a good football player. Honestly, I have said this to him on the football field, he is a phenomenal football player. [He’s] very smart, physical, can make all the plays and so you need to know where he is in that sense, yes, because of how good he is.”
Roethlisberger was asked about his thoughts, and memories, of last year’s game, and what it might mean for the team heading back to Cincinnati since Ryan Shazier’s injury.
“Well, I think on our side, we’ll put it behind us. We are going to go in and play like it’s a normal football game. AFC North physical football game. We can only control half the players out there though, so we know how important this game is for us to try and get a ‘W’.”
How will this game unfold is anyone’s guess, but fans of both sides should hope for anything but another spectacle. A hard-hitting, but clean, contest would be a delight after the past few debacles between these two football teams.
Check out his complete media session below: