In 2005, after twelve games, the Steelers were 7-5 and needed to win out to earn a spot in the postseason. They had just lost to the eventual AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals 38-31, and everyone outside of the Steelers locker room pretty much thought the season was over, except for the players themselves. Ben had made a promise to Jerome Bettis at the end of the previous season, that if he came back for one more year, he would get Jerome home to Detroit. The Steelers started their run to Super Bowl XL, in game number 13, with a physical beating of the Chicago Bears. It was a game which produced the most iconic regular season moment in team history, Jerome Bettis running over Bears legendary linebacker, Brian Urlacher, to seal the game. It was also the final 100 yard game of Jerome Bettis’s hall of fame career. Once again though, just like in 2005, the Cincinnati Bengals take center stage in an escalating rivalry. Back then, their disrespect for the Terrible Towel sealed their fate in the postseason. Ten years later, it’s their disregard for the health of Le’Veon Bell that could be their undoing.
It’s hard to ignore the similarities to 2005 season, where the Steelers dedicated their run to Jerome Bettis. This year, they are playing for Bell. In 2005, their season was almost ended by a loss to the Bengals. In 2015, the Steelers potential run to Super Bowl greatness begins with the Bengals, and could lead to another postseason showdown. In their first meeting with Cincinnati this year, a rusty Ben Roethlisberger was making his return from an MCL sprain, and threw three interceptions in a 16-10 loss. During the game, Le’Veon Bell suffered a season ending MCL tear in his knee, while being tackled by Vontaze Burfict. Several Steelers players claim that Burfict got up and was celebrating the injury as he was running off the field. This is the second season in a row in which the Bengals ended Bell’s season with a knee injury. In the 2005 playoffs, it was the Bengals who were accusing Kimo Von Oelhoffen of taking a cheap shot on their quarterback, Carson Palmer, that tore his ACL, PCL and MCL. Needless to say, there is a history of bad blood between the Bengals and Steelers and it is increasing with each game.
Cincinnati gets to face a healthy, focused, and very angry Pittsburgh Steelers team tomorrow, with a quarterback who has owned them in their own stadium. On top of that, the Bengals have to try and stop a red hot Ben Roethlisberger with a depleted secondary that will be without Adam “Pac-man” Jones. Over his career, Ben Roethlisberger is 9-2 in his visits to Cincinnati, throwing for 2,520 yards, and tossing 16 touchdown passes. In his last game in the Queen City, Ben threw for 350 yards and 3 touchdowns. History is definitely not on the Bengals side in this game, and they definitely don’t fare well when the Steelers turn up the heat and get more physical. Who better to punch in the mouth, early and often, than a division rival, when you’re trying to re-live history. If they smoked the Bengals over their treatment of the Terrible Towel, just imagine the beating that awaits the Bengals for targeting Bell like they did.
Those who fail to learn from history, tend to repeat history. Ten years ago, the Bengals won the AFC North and acted like they won the Super Bowl. They bragged that them beating the Steelers to win the North was like going from a black and white TV (Steelers) to a color tv (Bengals). Whatever the hell that meant. While they were running their mouths, the Steelers stopped talking and focused on preparing to start the greatest Super Bowl run in history, and eliminated the Bengals from the playoffs along the way. The Bengals haven’t even wrapped up the north and they are already yapping, referring to the Steelers now as the village idots, among other things. The Steelers, well they haven’t said a word, they’re content to let their actions on the field do their talking. Cincinnati, are you feeling a sense of Deja’ Vu yet? Why are you bragging about owning a division you haven’t officially even won yet? You were still bragging about that AFC North title in 2005, even as the Steelers were hoisting the Trophy for their 5th Super Bowl title. You might want to keep this in mind, if history is in fact repeating itself ten years later, you can’t stop a one way ride.