Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE ; Bengals Have Added Incentive vs. Steelers

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE ; Bengals Have Added Incentive vs. Steelers

Article excerpt

CINCINNATI - Sure, the Bengals can wrap up the AFC North title with a win on Sunday, and that's pleasing enough to the team that's been atop the division since the opening game. But there's something else they would savor at the end of the day. They could make the Steelers a long shot for the playoffs, too. And that would be almost as much fun.

"I hope we knock 'em out, Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick said. "That's the definition of a rivalry game.

The Bengals (10-2) and Steelers (7-5) renew their rivalry on Sunday with a lot at stake for both of them, and a lot of hard feelings between them.

Cincinnati took control of the division by going to Pittsburgh and winning 16-10 on Nov. 1. The Steelers suffered another significant setback in that game when running back Le'Veon Bell hurt his knee while being tackled by Vontaze Burfict.

Some of the Steelers took exception to the way the demonstrative Burfict strutted after his hard tackle, not knowing that Bell had suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Pittsburgh has gotten back into playoff contention since that Nov. 1 game by getting its offense back to full speed. The Steelers have scored 30 points in four straight games for the first time in club history. They've also topped 450 net yards in four straight games, tying the NFL mark.

In order to maintain their slim chances of a second straight division title - and to bolster their wild-card chances - the Steelers must prevent a series sweep.

"It's one of the best [teams], if not the best, in the NFL, said Roethlisberger, who has thrown for more than 300 yards in four straight games. "So we know we're the underdogs and it's a big challenge for us.

A challenge with a little extra edge and a lot on the line.

"I know what's at stake, they know what's at stake, Kirkpatrick said. "They don't like us, we don't like them, point-blank.

Some things to watch on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium:

A.J.'S DAY: A.J. Green has enjoyed some big games against the Steelers lately, including an 11-catch performance for 118 yards and the winning touchdown in Pittsburgh. Green has averaged 9. …

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