If you’re a Cincinnati Bengals fan, you know the storylines.
They can’t win in the playoffs.
They can’t win in primetime.
They can’t beat the Pittsburgh Steelers when it matters.
So what do the football gods give the Bengals? A chance to exorcise not one, not two, but all three demons when the Steelers come to Paul Brown Stadium for a Wild Card matchup Saturday night. Kickoff is at 8:15 p.m. on WHIO-TV, Ch. 7.
It’s no secret that the Steelers have historically held an enormous edge over the Men in Stripes. But how wide is that gap?
We’ve compiled a list of 10 ways the Steelers have haunted the Cincinnati franchise over the last several decades.
Here goes, in no particular order:
1.) Kimo von Oelhoffen
He’s got to be Public Enemy No. 1 in Bengals lore.
The defensive lineman wrecked quarterback Carson Palmer’s left knee on the Bengals’ second play from scrimmage in a Wild Card game in January 2006. It knocked Palmer out of the game, and shattered the Bengals’ hopes for a Super Bowl title.
To add insult to injury, not only did the Steelers win that night 31-17, they went on to win the Super Bowl against Seattle.
2.) 2006 season finale
The Bengals entered 8-7, needing a win and some help to get into the playoffs. Standing in front of them, of course, was the Steelers.
With the score tied at 17, the Bengals had a chance to win in the closing seconds, but Shayne Graham’s 39-yard field goal try sailed wide right. The Steelers won 23-17 in overtime, denying the Bengals their second straight playoff berth because the help they needed — they got.
3.) Hines Ward
He likely gives von Oelhoffen a run for his money as the most hated Steeler in Bengals fandom, and not just for his vicious blindside hit on linebacker Keith Rivers in 2008 that broke Rivers’ jaw.
Against the Bengals in his regular season career, the wide receiver caught 131 passes for 1,588 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also had a touchdown catch in the Wild Card game.
4.) 2014 season finale
With the AFC North title and a home playoff game on the line, the Bengals traveled to Pittsburgh — and of course it was flexed into the Sunday night primetime slot.
The Bengals lost, 27-17, but were driving only down a field goal when A.J. Green fumbled on a play he also suffered a concussion on. The Steelers scored a long touchdown on the ensuing possession, and the door was slammed shut on Cincinnati’s division championship hopes.
5.) Terence Garvin
Your first reaction may be, “Who?”
He’s the guy who leveled Bengals punter Kevin Huber in 2013 during an Antonio Brown touchdown return.
Huber’s season was cut short with a broken jaw and cracked vertebrae in his back.
Afterwards, the NFL admitted a flag should have been thrown against Garvin for an illegal block. Garvin was fined $25,000.
6.) Ben Roethlisberger
The Steelers star quarterback and Miami University product is 17-7 in 24 career regular-season games against the Bengals. He’s won 10 of 12 starts at Paul Brown Stadium.
Roethlisberger’s completed nearly 64 percent of his passes and tossed 30 touchdowns, with a quarterback rating of 85.5. Big Ben, though, has thrown 25 interceptions against the Bengals.
In the Wild Card game 10 years ago, Roethlisberger threw for 208 yards, three TDs and no picks.
7.) Keith Gary
The Steelers defensive end nearly tore the head off Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson with a face-mask hit in a Monday night game in 1983.
Anderson suffered a severe neck sprain when Gary flung him to the turf, knocking the signal-caller out of the game. Gary denied it was intentional, but Bengals general manager, the late Paul Brown, said it was one of the most vicious hits he’d ever seen.
8.) Dick LeBeau
LeBeau was fired as head coach by the Bengals after the 2002 season, then went on to lead the Pittsburgh defense from 2004 to 2014, where he was a part of two Super Bowl titles as the defensive coordinator.
Considered one of the greatest defensive minds in NFL history, LeBeau was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
9.) The mental edge
The Bengals-Steelers ‘rivalry’ has a Big Brother vs. Little Brother feel to it.
And until the Bengals beat the Steelers in a big moment — such as Saturday night — it will remain that way.
Since Marvin Lewis was hired as head coach in 2003, he has an overall record of 112-94-2 in the regular season, but an 0-6 mark in the playoffs. Against the Steelers, Lewis is 8-18 in the regular season and 0-1 in the postseason.
10.) Super Bowl rings
It’s all about the bling, baby. And the Steelers have plenty of it — in fact, more than any other franchise in the NFL.
Pittsburgh has won six Super Bowls, most recently in February 2009.
The Bengals are 0-2 in Super Bowls, losing to the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XVI and XXIII. It’s been 25 years since the Bengals even won a playoff game.