For LeVeon Bell, Sunday’s game in the Queen City is more than just a typical divisional game, it represents the chance for payback. Each of Bell’s last two season’s have ended with a trip to the IR, courtesy of the Cincinnati Bengals, who cheered his departure each time. Last year, it was Vontaze Burfict who not only ended Bell’s season, but Antonio Brown’s as well. The more savage of the two hits that Burfict delivered was the head shot to Brown, who never saw it coming. The apparent intent to injure both players is bad enough, but what makes Burfict’s behavior even more disgusting, is immediately celebrating the injury to Bell, and along with Pacman Jones, accusing Antonio Brown of faking his concussion. Through it all, Bell and Brown took the high road while patiently waiting for the opportunity to take their revenge, together, out on the field.
The Bengals motivation for this game appears to amount to nothing more than playing the role of spoiler to a division rival’s postseason dream’s. The Steelers are playing for a much deeper purpose, to tighten their grip on the top spot in the AFC North. Whether they choose to admit it or not, the Steelers will also be playing with the actions of Burfict still fresh on their minds, and may look to deliver a bit more of a physical pounding than normal. With their season all but over, the Bengals desire to be spoilers may not be nearly enough to overcome the dual purpose with which the Steelers are playing. With Bell and the offensive line just hitting their stride in the running game, the Steelers may choose to deliver the first punch with a healthy dose of LeVeon Bell to soften the Bengals defense up.
Bell seems to have been running with a chip on his shoulder lately, which quite a few of the Buffalo Bills players can atest to. As hard as he ran last week, there is little doubt that he, and the offensive line set aside some of that attitude just for the Bengals. If a revenge minded LeVeon Bell isn’t concern enough for the Cincinnati defense, how much worse is it knowing that Antonio Brown wants to torture them too, for the misdeeds of their teamate? Sure, Brown may have that big smile like Hines Ward did, but he can be just as nasty, just ask Browns punter Spencer Lanning. Brown is as competitive as they come, and make no mistake about it, he is determined to inflict his own brand of damage on the Bengals secondary.
No amount of apologies, or making nice, by Burfict and Jones is going to erase what happened. It definitely isn’t going to lessen the desire of Bell and Brown to get back what they lost last season. The Steelers chance to go to the Super Bowl was essentially taken away from them when they lost Brown and Bell, and still, they came within a lost fumble of going to the AFC Championship game. This year the Steelers control of their own destiney, with three games left against divisional opponents. With revenge on their minds, and malice in their hearts, being in the path of LeVeon Bell, Antonio Brown, and the Pittsburgh Steelers is not an enviable position to be in. The Steelers are the hunters, and the Bengals are the hunted. LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown are the ultimate weapons that the Steelers will use to take the Bengals down.