Steelers, Bengals still going at nasty rivalry in offseason
CINCINNATI (AP) All of this Steelers-and-Bengals animosity isn't going away. New season, same raw feelings. And it's going to keep going, right up to the second week of the season.
Pittsburgh's 18-16 win over Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium in the first round of the playoffs only stoked the dislike between the Ohio River rivals. The Steelers pulled it out with the help of linebacker Vontaze Burfict's hit to Antonio Brown's head, which drew a pivotal 15-yard penalty and sidelined the receiver for the next playoff game.
Also, cornerback Adam ''Pacman'' Jones got a penalty for bumping an official while trying to get at Steelers assistant coach Joey Porter on the field as the teams milled about after Burfict's hit on Brown. The two penalties put the Steelers in range for the game-winning field goal.
The offseason usually marks the time to move on, but that game has stuck with everyone.
''It was boiling all season long, with the different things that were happening in the regular-season game with us and them,'' tight end Tyler Eifert said. ''It's not surprising, especially the way the game ended and just emotions running high and all that stuff. It's not stuff that we would want to lag on like that, but given the circumstances, I guess it's not surprising.''
The AFC North rivals ratcheted up the animosity during Cincinnati's 16-10 win in Pittsburgh on Nov. 1. Burfict returned from a knee injury that game and dragged down running back Le'Veon Bell, who tore a knee ligament on the play. Neither team let it go. Players traded shots at each other through social media and interviews leading up to their rematch on Dec. 13 at Paul Brown Stadium.
By that point, it was so intense that a scuffle broke out during pregame warmups. Jones tweeted about his hatred for the Steelers before the game using an obscenity. During the game, Andy Dalton broke his right thumb while making a tackle after he threw an interception, and there were personal fouls throughout.
The Steelers won 33-20, but the series had its ugliest moments ahead.
The teams met again in the opening round of the playoffs at Paul Brown Stadium, and there were rough hits, shoving and trash talking from the opening kickoff right up to the winning field goal in the closing seconds. Burfict got a three-game suspension from the NFL for his repeated violations of player safety rules.
They've kept going at it in the offseason.
Burfict and Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams got into it on Twitter this month, with Burfict tweeting: ''I'm happy to still b in y'all heads 4 months later.'' Williams shot back that Burfict was ''costing your team games'' and set up the 2016 rematches by saying that ''we'll be looking forward to it after your vacation.''
Turns out Burfict will still be gone when the teams play for the first time. The Bengals go to Pittsburgh for the second game of the season on Sunday, Sept. 18, when the linebacker will still be suspended. The timing caught the Bengals' attention right away.
Asked if that game got his attention, Dalton said: ''I mean, yeah. Other guys are going to have to step in and play, and we've been there before.''
The Steelers return to Paul Brown Stadium for a Sunday night game on Dec. 18.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has tried to get his team to move on from its fifth straight first-round loss in the playoffs. When the players met for the start of offseason workouts, he admonished them not to rehash it or discuss it with the media.
''That's what he told us to tell y'all: That was the end of it,'' safety George Iloka said.
Not yet. Not by a long shot.
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