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Ben Roethlisberger thinks the Bengals-Steelers rivalry has gone too far-- and he's right

Intense matchups are one thing, but games between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are becoming dangerous and personal, whereas they should really be about gamesmanship and competition. The Steelers quarterback is right on this one.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

At this point, the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers care about defeating one another almost as much as they care about their overall team success. The two teams totaled over $200,000 in fines in three games last season and post-season and the casualties they inflict upon one another are so significant that they directly affected the final outcomes of the two franchises last year. Ben Roethlisberger wants the rivalry to continue and even intensify, but for the tone to change.

"I think it can get out of control and it did at times," the Steelers quarterback said in an interview with the Tribune-Review. "I am out there and you see all the stuff going on under the piles. It is one thing to talk a little trash and another thing to say some of the things that are being said. The referees have to keep it under control, but we as players have to be better and go play on both sides... I want it to be a good, clean rivalry."

Roethlisberger would like to see the rivalry with the Bengals transformed into something that resembles the rivalry the Steelers and Ravens have, where the games are "never dirty."

"You never worried about cheap and dirty-type stuff," Roethlisberger said of the Ravens. (Apparently a head coach trying to trip a kick returner on the other team is neither cheap nor dirty.)

While he may be trying to take subtle shots at linebacker Vontaze Burfict and the Bengals, Roethlisberger does have a point. Marvin Lewis even recently stated he believes the bickering between the two sides on social media has gotten out of hand. Unfortunately, the teams allowed the rivalry to change the trajectory of their seasons. The Bengals lost key players quarterback Andy Dalton (thumb), tight end Tyler Eifert (concussion) and running back Giovani Bernard (concussion) in games against the Steelers last year. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh lost stars like running back Le'Veon Bell (MCL) and wide receiver Antonio Brown (concussion) in games against Cincinnati. Also, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder) was injured during a sack by Burfict in the playoffs. He was able to play against the Denver Broncos in the next round, but missed moments of the Steelers' win over the Bengals in the Wild Card round.

If we go back a little further in the history between the two teams, we will find a number of other horrific and season changing injuries, such as those to Carson Palmer, Keith Rivers and Kevin Huber.

Are injuries a part of the game? Of course. But not at this rate. Furthermore, sportsmanship is often sacrificed as well. Does anyone really think Burfict or cornerback Adam Jones would have lost their cool had they met, say, the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs instead?

The sideshow has become the main event. As John Sheeran pointed out in the "Sorry if I Spit When I Speak" podcast below, the Bengals and their coaching staff should be focusing on the strategies the Steelers use to take advantage of favorable matchups. For instance, no matter who the running back is, Pittsburgh has been able to churn out yards by using a one-cut zone-based running attack. And they apply pressure consistently by disguising a-gap blitzes. But countering those bread and butter techniques is a lot more difficult when you're more concerned with showing up the "big brother" of the AFC North.

In the most recent episode of "Sorry If I Spit When I Speak," I sat down to talk with Dr. Hodgie E. Smodgie and John about the rivalry, and debate whether it is excessive or not. We also received a call from a passionate Steelers fan who targets the Bengals and their fans on Twitter and YouTube. You can listen to the podcast on iTunes here, or use the SoundCloud link below. Please subscribe on iTunes and leave a review if you like it and would like to hear more.