The Pittsburgh Steelers barely came through with a win against the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 in Monday Night’s game.
While the two teams have a rivalry that dates back to 1970, seeing a few extra shoves or harder hits from players is normal. However, Monday night’s game was filled with some tense moments as players were getting severely injured and even a few getting suspended.
Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict ended up leaving the game on a stretcher during the fourth quarter after an illegal block from Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Bengals weren’t going to let this slide without a little payback, and less than four minutes later, Safety George Iloka drilled WR Anotnio Brown right in his face mask after a game tying TD. All these unnecessary plays came after a horrifying first quarter injury suffered by Steelers LB Ryan Shazier due to a back injury. Shazier couldn’t feel his back, and feared he might be paralyzed, but recent reports say that it isn’t as severe as anticipated.
The crazy thing about his injury is it all happened innocently. He lowered his head when going for a routine tackle on Bengals receiver Josh Malone, and it didn’t go quite as planned. If this game was played 30 or so years ago, it wouldn’t have caused nearly as much controversy as it did. But, with studies done in recent years, researchers have found that players can’t tackle head first as that’s what causes traumatic brain injuries, or other serious medical problems later on in life.
Another good point that was brought up his how long these players are in the league for. According to Dr. Bennet Omalu, “The brain does not have a reasonable capacity to regenerate. This is something we have always known.” Although the NFL has been trying to raise awareness on how to prevent head injuries, sometimes it is out of the players control. They aren’t mind readers who can determine which way or route the receiver will take.
QB Ben Roethlisberger was able to describe what he thought of the violent game in three words. “AFC North Football.” It’s games like that though that make him question if staying in the league at 35 years old is a wise decision. Nevertheless, Big Ben is like a tank and he has seen it all in his 13 years of being with the Steelers.
The Steelers-Bengals rivalry has been considered one of the most “one sided rivalries” in pro sports, was the Steelers have a 28-9 record against the Bengals since 2000. The last time the Bengals won was in 2015 when they were 7-0, which happened to be a franchise record. It was also the year where Le’Veon Bell tore his MCL and missed the remainder of the season.
The Steelers are on a seven-game winning streak as they lead the AFC North at 10-2 while the Bengals sit in third place at 5-7.