The Bengals have played the Steelers more than any other NFL team. Sure, all matchups in the AFC North are rivalrys, but the Bengals and Steelers seem to be a particularly nasty one.
I take a look into the history of the rivalry by highlighting some key moments.
In 1983, the Bengals Kenny Anderson is knocked from the game by a facemask from the Steelers Keith Gary.
After the game, Chris Collinsworth was furious. Making no bones about it, he thought it was a cheap shot and thought the league should do something about the infraction. The media from both cities played up the story and the hatred grew.
In 1985 after the Bengals beat the Steelers in the regular season matchup, Sam Wyche trots to the center of the field to shake hands with Chuck Noll. Now, Chuck Noll was known as a coach that does not shake hands after a game. So Sam persisted and a relenting Noll shook hands. Again, the media had a field day with it. Noll called Wyche a "rookie" and he would learn. Add another log to the fire.
"I would have appreciated being able to shake hands with Chuck after the game but he ran in. That's all I need. From now on, the rivalry is on," Sam Wyche said.
"You can always tell the rookies in the league," Chuck Noll countered. "They complain."
The 1990 season had Sam Wyche introducing his no huddle offense to the NFL. Many coaches opposed it but none more than Chuck Noll. Noll complained to the press after a loss and said it was a cheap way to favor the game. He talked of having players fake injury to enable substitutions and claimed Wyche was not a gentleman of the game. Again, the media fueled the flames.
In the 90's the Bengals were dubbed the Bungles because they were so terrible. However, in 1998 the Bengals managed a sweep of the Steelers in route to a 3 - 13 season. The sweetest bit comes from the fact that the Steelers were eliminated from the playoffs due to those losses.
The quarterback for the Benglas at the time was Niel O'Donnell. The same QB who threw 3 interceptions for the Steelers in the Super Bowl against Dallas.
In more recent history the playoff game in 2005 is what most Bengal fans point to when asked why they hate the Steelers. In the wildcard round of the playoffs the Bengals looked to be one of the best teams in the NFL. However, on Carson Palmer's first pass attempt, his knee is buckled by the Steelers, Kimo Von Oelhoffen and the Bengals hopes were dashed. To add salt to the wound, the Steelers went on to win the Super Bowl.
The following season in 2006 the Bengals had one game to win to secure back to back playoff births. At the end of regulation the Bengals found themselves tied with the 6 and 8 Steelers 17 - 17. That was when the Ohio connection of Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes had a 67 yd touchdown reception in overtime to seal the Bengals fate.
I am sure there are countless other stories in this rivalry. Let's hope the Bengals notch another one on national TV tonight.