The time for talk and false bravado from the Cincinnati Bengals is just about over. The new AFC North division champs have not been shy about speaking their minds recently, with Vontaze Burfict stating rather unequivocally that he hates Pittsburgh, while Adam “Pac-man” Jones has made his little videos, making idle threats. They talk about how the shoe is on the other foot now, how they are giving the Steelers a dose of their own medicine. Well, what they fail to remember, is that Bengals teams of the past have always initiated the war of words, while the Steelers have always finished it on the field. Even a local radio station is getting in the trash talk, by issuing rape warnings in lieu of Ben coming to town. Evidently the Bengals feel threatened that Marcus Gilbert’s Christmas wish, to see them for a third time, actually came true. They didn’t learn their lesson about trash talking in 2005, and it doesn’t sound like they have learned it today either. That definitely does not sound like a championship caliber football team to me, it sounds more like a bunch of insecure boys playing a man’s game, all hype and no heart.
The team they are facing Saturday night, the Pittsburgh Steelers, are all about heart, and that heart is the biggest reason why Marcus Gilbert got his Christmas wish fulfilled. The Steelers overcame whatever was thrown at them this season, regardless of how much of a challenge it presented to them, and every unit of the team did their part to carry the Steelers at one point or another. Those who were present, and everyone who has watched the season unfold, know without a doubt that the Steelers earned their right to be in the postseason, as opposed to backing in. Postseason births are decided on a body of work over the course of a sixteen game season. No team worked harder and showed more heart this season than the Pittsburgh Steelers. The fact that the Bengals players, fans and even their radio personalities, are more focused on talking trash than the actual game itself is proof of two things. The first is, that Cincinnati is jealous of what Pittsburgh has accomplished, and the second thing is, Cincinnati doesn’t know how to handle the teeny bit of success they get from time to time.
The Steelers have been here before, more than any team in NFL history, and they are here to win a seventh title not talk trash. There is a reason the Steelers have won an NFL record six Lombardi trophies, and why the Bengals haven’t even sniffed an opportunity to win one since the early 80’s, and we are seeing it. If Cincinnati had the confidence and belief that they could beat Pittsburgh in front of a prime time audience, they would not be talking. Since they don’t have that confidence, they are trying to trash talk away their insecurities. The fact that there is more pressure on them to win this game, than there is on the Steelers, has to be weighing on them. The Bengals are the division winners and the Steelers are the wildcard, so Cincinnati should win this game, that is how the national media sees it. At the same time that they have all the pressure on them to win this home playoff game, they also know deep down that the Steelers are truly the better team, even with an inferior secondary. Imagine how that feels on top of all the expectations.
Why are the Steelers better than Cincinnati? Because they are professionals, and they play with heart. They don’t worry about anything outside of their own locker room, they only concern themselves with how they overcome the next challenge together. The Steelers realize you don’t have to be the best team to win the Super Bowl, you just have to be the team that is playing the best football at this time of the year. Apparently the Bengals players still haven’t realized that all of the trash talking that they and their fans are doing, usually leads to even more ridiculous excuses for why they lost. As arrogant as the Bengals are, all that their trash talking shows the world, is their inexperience and insecurity. It proves that the Steelers are in their heads, and as the Steelers know, that is half the battle. The Steelers are the best team in NFL history at playoff preparation, and they have the ability to jump on Cincinnati fast. If that happens, it would not be a surprise if the Bengals self-destructed quickly. The Steelers have already been tested this year, and they won’t panic. While the Bengals are talking trash, Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are working on ways to trash the Bengals secondary, and that scares the Bengals to death.