The Steelers have clearly gotten the message.
The day after coach Mike Tomlin said he expected his guys to keep their emotions in check during this week’s game with the Bengals, his players refused to provide anything inflammatory, disrespectful, or borderline interesting.
Via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was asked if the Steelers were looking for any form of payback after the Bengals (specifically suspended linebacker Vontaze Burfict) either injured or slowed down their offensive stars last year.
“That’s not who we are,” Roethlisberger said. “It’s a physical football game and a physical division. That’s what we expect, a physical football game — clean.”
Roethlisberger wouldn’t even elaborate on the evolution of the rivalry with the Bengals, and only defensive end Cam Heyward was willing to say that it might not rise to the standard of other AFC North games.
Heyward said Steelers-Bengals was “the second-biggest rivalry in the AFC North.”
“It’s not a slight on the Bengals. The Ravens have won Super Bowls, we’ve won Super Bowls,” Heyward said.
Of course, the game itself has created plenty of heat in the past, so adding words may not even be necessary to keep this one at a high pitch.