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Thread: Bengals vs. Steelers rivalry goes back aways

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    Test for fancy coffee yab1112's Avatar
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    Bengals vs. Steelers rivalry goes back aways

    A series with a rich history
    Wednesday, November 11, 2009

    By BOB LABRIOLA
    Steelers.com
    Who knows, if the NFL had aligned its divisions differently immediately after the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, maybe it would have been Steelers-Bengals instead of Steelers-Raiders as the annual game that sent the winner to the Super Bowl.

    Football fans too young to know what a typewriter ribbon looks like see the Cincinnati Bengals as a franchise that rarely is able to get out of its own way. With the exception of 2005 when the Bengals won the AFC North Division title, the franchise has not had a winning record in any season since 1990.

    But in the 1970s, with Paul Brown either coaching the team or running it from the front office, the Bengals could make a case for themselves as the second-best team in the NFL. But because the best team in the NFL at the time was in the same division, the Bengals rarely got the recognition they deserved.

    Back then, the division was called the AFC Central. Today, it’s the AFC North, and on Sunday at Heinz Field, it’s going to be a throwback weekend in the sense that the Steelers and the Bengals will play a game in November with supremacy in the division very much at stake.

    In 2008, the Steelers and Baltimore Ravens played for the AFC Championship, and since the Steelers won the Super Bowl, a linear argument could be made that the Ravens were the second-best team in the NFL last year. Those teams met three times, with the second game deciding the division champion and the third game deciding the conference champion.

    In 2009, the Bengals have established themselves as a team that is right there competing for many of the same things.

    “It’s really not surprising that they’re a player in the (race),” said Coach Mike Tomlin. “They got their franchise quarterback back. They’re gaining continuity on defense. They picked up Cedric Benson, who ran very well over the second half of last year. He’s back. So it’s not surprising that they’re in the mix.”

    The Bengals are very much in the mix, primarily because they are undefeated against division foes so far this season. Cincinnati, at 4-0, already has swept the home-and-home from the Ravens, and they also have wins over the Browns in Cleveland and over the Steelers in Cincinnati.

    The Steelers’ 6-0 record in the division last year was what propelled them into the playoffs as a No. 2 seed last season; and it was their 5-1 record in 2007 that got them into the playoffs instead of the Browns when both teams finished 10-6. A team’s division record, therefore, is merely critical.

    “We know what Baltimore is about and what they’re capable of. I think that everybody in this division takes a great deal of pride in the quality of the teams in this division and how we play football in this division,” said Tomlin. “I’m sure I speak for the entire division when I say we’ll put what we do up against any division in football. It’s going to be an exciting game inside of Heinz Field, one that we’re going to be excited to be a part of. Classic AFC North warfare.”

    But back to the history lesson.

    In 1973, the Bengals and Steelers both finished 10-4, they split the home-and-home series, but Cincinnati won the division with a better conference record.

    In 1975, the Steelers were in the process of defending their first Super Bowl championship and posted a 12-2 regular season record, while the Bengals were 11-3 and the Houston Oilers were third at 10-4. Two of the Bengals’ three losses that season were to the Steelers, and they were eliminated from the playoffs by a 31-28 defeat in Oakland to the Raiders team that would advance to the conference championship game.

    That was then. This season, the Bengals are a team that’s tough enough and physical enough to have beaten the Ravens twice and beaten them up both times, a team that’s resilient enough to have erased a double-digit deficit in the second half to beat the Steelers.

    To Tomlin, none of that is a surprise because of the play of the Bengals’ franchise quarterback – Carson Palmer.

    “I was just looking at the Baltimore game this morning, Palmer pulled down a third-and-6 and ran for the first down,” said Tomlin. “This guy’s playing with an edge. He’s missed some football. He’s committed to driving this team. Guys of that mind-set will move the chains by any means possible. So we have to respect that element of it as we prepare, and ultimately as we play them.”

    Sunday at 1 p.m., with first place in the division at stake. Just like the old days.
    Interesting article considering I'm only 21 and didn't know there was all that history.
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    We Need Our Myths reds1869's Avatar
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    Re: Bengals vs. Steelers rivalry goes back aways

    I am more excited about this game than any regular season tilt in a long time. It should be an exciting, hard-hitting affair.

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    Re: Bengals vs. Steelers rivalry goes back aways

    The only thing those 70's Bengals teams lacked... was a hardcore toughness on defense...which was lost after 1973 when they traded Bill Bergey...and also after 1973... a decent running game.

    I thought after 1973 when they had an up and coming Top 10 offense to go with a Top 10 defense that they would be the team to beat. Then they trade Bergey beacuse of the WFL....and they totally get run over on defense for the next 2 years. They also decided it would be good to trade for John Reaves and give up a future All Pro Tackle in Stan Walters to get him.
    Throw in Boobie Clark getting out of shape...Essex Johnson's injuries...and the Steelers drafting Jack Lambert...Lynn Swann...John Stallworth...Mike Webster..Loren Towes and getting Donnie Shell as an UFA before the 1974 season....and you have 2 teams going in opposite directions by 1978.

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    Re: Bengals vs. Steelers rivalry goes back aways

    1975 was painful.

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    Waitin til next year bucksfan2's Avatar
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    Re: Bengals vs. Steelers rivalry goes back aways

    That was then. This season, the Bengals are a team that’s tough enough and physical enough to have beaten the Ravens twice and beaten them up both times, a team that’s resilient enough to have erased a double-digit deficit in the second half to beat the Steelers.
    I can't remember this ever being true about the Bengals. I was 7 during their last super bowl appearance but I thought that was more of a finesse offensive and defensive team.

    The Bengals finally have a team that will hit you in the mouth over and over again. Their physicality is top notch and they won't back down from a challenge anymore. Its been a complete 180 from their style in the past.

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    Re: Bengals vs. Steelers rivalry goes back aways

    Quote Originally Posted by bucksfan2 View Post
    I can't remember this ever being true about the Bengals. I was 7 during their last super bowl appearance but I thought that was more of a finesse offensive and defensive team.

    The Bengals finally have a team that will hit you in the mouth over and over again. Their physicality is top notch and they won't back down from a challenge anymore. Its been a complete 180 from their style in the past.

    I think we used to call it a "bend but not break" defense.
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    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    Re: Bengals vs. Steelers rivalry goes back aways

    Ahhh, the 70's and the AFC Central. The best division in football with the Steelers, Bengals, Browns, and Oilers.

    #@$%^& Chuck Noll!

    My brother, who is a Bengal fan, and myself, who is a Browns fan, had quite a rivalry going back then. The only thing we had in common was our hate of the Steelers. It was fun in our household whenever the Browns-Bengals played.

    The Battle of Ohio is a fun rivalry, and a lot of that is due to how evenly matched the Bengals and Browns have been over its history. Their rises and falls, for the most part, have come at the same times. When they weren't battling each other for the same playoff berth, they were fighting over the same draft picks— something to which Dave Lapham can attest to.

    Browns record during the decade of the 70's.... 72-70-2
    Bengals record during the decade of the 70's.... 74-70

    In the 70's the teams were 10-10 vs each other.
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    Just The Big Picture macro's Avatar
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    Re: Bengals vs. Steelers rivalry goes back aways

    Four seasons in the Bengals-Steelers rivalry stick out in my mind.

    In 1976, Pittsburgh got off to an uncustomary 1-4 start, but then won their last nine games of the season to finish 10-4. Meanwhile the Bengals had jumped out to a 9-2 record but lost two of their last three to also finish 10-4. Pittsburgh won the tiebreaker and the division and the Bengals did not make the playoffs. Two of the Bengals' four losses came to Pittsburgh, so they were 10-2 against the rest of the league.

    This came on the heels of the painful 1975 season that woy alluded to, when the Bengals went 11-1 against the rest of the league but 0-2 against Pittsburgh. So in that two-year span, the Bengals went 0-4 against the Steelers and 21-3 against the rest of the NFL! They had one playoff game, a loss, to show for it.

    On a more positive note, the two teams met in Week 3 of the 1980 season, and Pittsburgh was 2-0 while the Bengals were 0-2. Cincinnati won the game in an upset.

    The Steelers then won their next two games to go to 4-1, while the Bengals lost their next two games to slip to 1-4. The teams met again at this point, in Week 6. Guess who won? Yep, the Bengals upset them again.

    At that point the Bengals were 2-0 against the defending Super Bowl champs and 0-4 against the rest of the league. The defending champs, on the other hand, were 4-0 against the rest of the league but 0-2 against a Bengals team that was coming off consecutive 4-12 seasons and was destined to finish 6-10 that same year.

    And then how about the 1998 Bengals, who finished 3-13, but swept Pittsburgh? That's right, 1-13 against the rest of the league but 2-0 against the Steelers.

    The one thing I have come to realize in my 35 years of watching this rivalry is that you can pretty much throw the records out the window when the teams tee it up. The best Bengals teams couldn't beat Pittsburgh but two of the weakest were able to sweep them. To be fair, though, the Steelers of 1980 were not the Steelers of the 70s, and the 1998 Steelers finished only 7-9.
    Last edited by macro; 11-11-2009 at 06:03 PM.

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    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: Bengals vs. Steelers rivalry goes back aways

    A hammer and a nail is not a rivalry.
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    Re: Bengals vs. Steelers rivalry goes back aways

    I didn't know all of that history so that was a cool read. Thanks for posting it and I can't wait for the game this weekend!
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    Re: Bengals vs. Steelers rivalry goes back aways

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip R View Post
    A hammer and a nail is not a rivalry.
    The Steelers lead the series 47-31, so point well-taken. However, I think their franchise has learned over the years that they should never enter a game against the Bengals not expecting a fight.

    The records were skewed in the period from 1991-97, when Pittsburgh went 12-2 against the Bengals, seven of the worst years in the history of the Cincinnati franchise. Take way those seven years of Bengals futility and the all-time series is a more respectable 35-29. Not bad considering Pittsburgh put some of the best teams in the history of the NFL on the field in many of those years, with six of those being Super Bowl champions.

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    Re: Bengals vs. Steelers rivalry goes back aways

    Quote Originally Posted by macro View Post
    Four seasons in the Bengals-Steelers rivalry stick out in my mind.

    In 1976, Pittsburgh got off to an uncustomary 1-4 start, but then won their last nine games of the season to finish 10-4. Meanwhile the Bengals had jumped out to a 9-2 record but lost two of their last three to also finish 10-4. Pittsburgh won the tiebreaker and the division and the Bengals did not make the playoffs. Two of the Bengals' four losses came to Pittsburgh, so they were 10-2 against the rest of the league.

    This came on the heels of the painful 1975 season that woy alluded to, when the Bengals went 11-1 against the rest of the league but 0-2 against Pittsburgh. So in that two-year span, the Bengals went 0-4 against the Steelers and 21-3 against the rest of the NFL! They had one playoff game, a loss, to show for it.

    On a more positive note, the two teams met in Week 3 of the 1980 season, and Pittsburgh was 2-0 while the Bengals were 0-2. Cincinnati won the game in an upset.

    The Steelers then won their next two games to go to 4-1, while the Bengals lost their next two games to slip to 1-4. The teams met again at this point, in Week 6. Guess who won? Yep, the Bengals upset them again.

    At that point the Bengals were 2-0 against the defending Super Bowl champs and 0-4 against the rest of the league. The defending champs, on the other hand, were 4-0 against the rest of the league but 0-2 against a Bengals team that was coming off consecutive 4-12 seasons and was destined to finish 6-10 that same year.

    And then how about the 1998 Bengals, who finished 3-13, but swept Pittsburgh? That's right, 1-13 against the rest of the league but 2-0 against the Steelers.

    The one thing I have come to realize in my 35 years of watching this rivalry is that you can pretty much throw the records out the window when the teams tee it up. The best Bengals teams couldn't beat Pittsburgh but two of the weakest were able to sweep them. To be fair, though, the Steelers of 1980 were not the Steelers of the 70s, and the 1998 Steelers finished only 7-9.
    I really enjoy your posts regarding Bengals history, Macro. Most people don't realize how good the Bengals were before the lost decade. Heck, I didn't become a Bengals fan til the early 90's, so I have seen about two winning seasons in 20 years. lol
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    Waitin til next year bucksfan2's Avatar
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    Re: Bengals vs. Steelers rivalry goes back aways

    Worst Steelers game experience was the final game of the 2006 season. The Bengals still had hope after finishing the season awfully. They beat the Steelers, get a little help, and they still make the playoffs. They Steelers were having a down year and the Bengals got them at home. I still remember Graham missing a very makeable FG to win the game in regulation only to see Santonio Holmes streaking down the sideline for a TD very early in OT.

    I was at the game in December of the early 2000's when the Bengals were awful but beat the Steelers in OT on a very messy PBS field. IIRC Danny Farmer went off that game. We left the game early because it was so cold only to find out that the Bengals had taken the game into overtime. Some drunk Pittsburgh fan said "The Steelers love overtime" shortly before the Bengals won the game. Got to love the drunk Pittsburgh fans.

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    Re: Bengals vs. Steelers rivalry goes back aways

    Quote Originally Posted by Playadlc View Post
    I really enjoy your posts regarding Bengals history, Macro. Most people don't realize how good the Bengals were before the lost decade. Heck, I didn't become a Bengals fan til the early 90's, so I have seen about two winning seasons in 20 years. lol
    Thanks, man. I went to my first Reds game in August 1975 at the age of nine. My dad wasn't much of a football fan in those days, so I didn't even know Cincinnati had a football team.

    When we got to the stadium, I saw Bengals logos and other small references to the team in signage, etc, and also saw the football field striping on the Astroturf that hadn't been thoroughly removed. It was that day that I first heard about the Cincinnati Bengals, and it was that day that I decided that any team that played in Riverfront Stadium was a favorite team of mine.

    Since the Colts weren't in Indianapolis yet, the Louisville TV market got Bengals games every Sunday, without question. I was hooked.

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    Re: Bengals vs. Steelers rivalry goes back aways

    Macro i agree that 1976 ...that was their year. They were in fact picked by several publications to derail the Steelers that year.

    Their first lost to Baltimore ...28-27.... when Ken Anderson went out injured and Chris Bahr missed an extra point...was also a key loss. They win that game and they have the division even with the 2 Steeler losses.

    I think besides the obvious fact that not hiring Bill Walsh as head coach had....was losing him as OC. They had Carroll Dale as OC and they tried to run more. They did okay there but the passing game was lacking.
    Trading Charlie Joiner hurt.....even with the addition of Coy Bacon.
    I felt they should have traded one of their draft choices. They had about 12 choices in the first 5 rounds from the trades with Philadelphia for Bill Bergey. With all the picks they had......Not one of them even smelled the Pro Bowl. Even though I loved Reggie Williams...they could have picked Harry Carson as well...with all the picks they got in the first several rounds.

    That defense was top notch. Led the NFL in Int. They scored points.
    Burely and Bacon had 32 sacks combined. They had their most Pro Bowlers ever up to that time. Really disappointing year after all was said and done.


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