Maybe it is the Super Bowl success? Maybe it is the continuity within the organization? Maybe it is the fan base which reaches across the globe? Or maybe it is the 'play till the whistle' type mentality which as been instilled by Mike Tomlin, but the Pittsburgh Steelers are not very well liked among their peers.
The Cincinnati Bengals certainly can attest to that, as Adam Jones and Andrew Whitworth have both been vocal about their displeasure regarding the Steelers in some form or fashion, but if the Steelers' next opponent has learned anything from the previous two meetings between the Steelers and Bengals, it would be to keep your comments out of the media.
Pittsburgh is perfectly fine playing that kind of game, but not every team is suited for such a fight, but it was the Broncos who must not have gotten the memo about this as safety Darian Stewart made his feelings known publicly about the Steelers, but more specifically center Cody Wallace. It should be noted it was Wallace who had a vicious, and late, hit on Broncos safety David Bruton Jr. in the team's previous game. The hit was flagged, and Wallace was fined for his actions.
"It's not going to be anything as far as cheap or anything," Stewart said. "We're going to get him between the lines, between the whistles. He's going to be sore after the game, that's how I see it. He comes out on a screen, he better not come at (me). I'm cutting him. That's where I'm at with it. You got me mad right now just thinking about it."
If this scene sounds familiar, it is because it was this same Broncos defense who took to the papers after the Steelers' emotional road win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 14. Many fans and experts worried about a let down game for Pittsburgh, until T.J. Ward made comments about how the Steelers were "hot because they haven't played us yet".
The "No Fly Zone", as the Broncos' secondary calls themselves, got plenty of attention from the Steelers as they rode a 21-0 second half to beat the Broncos at Heinz Field 34-27. Here we find ourselves again, after an emotional win in Cincinnati and the Broncos simply can't let well enough alone.
The Steelers might be a limping animal right now, but even a team like Pittsburgh can rise up and win on any given day. If there was even a thought of a let down after the craziness which ensued in the Wild Card round of the AFC Playoffs, you can throw that out the window at this point.
Stewart wasn't alone with his commentary on the black and gold. Defensive lineman Malik Jackson, the player who hit Antonio Brown late in Week 15 which caused Wallace to seek revenge, called the Steelers "conniving".
"They try to get under your skin," he said. "They definitely know what they are doing."
Of course they know what they are doing, and they have been doing it all season long in the trenches. What these player should realize is this isn't the first trip down this road for the Steelers; however, for most teams who want to take the verbal jousting act to the Steelers, it doesn't end well for them. Just ask the Bengals what they are doing this weekend.