There is no masking the dislike between Cincinnati and the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the Bengals sure are trying to.
Talk around the Bengals locker room this week ahead of their AFC North rivalry game Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium has centered around “staying poised” and “focused,” and not necessarily differentiating the opponent as one that matters more than others. That hasn’t always been the case when trash talk surrounded the week leading up to this game.
Pittsburgh has won the last six meetings against Cincinnati, including the 2015 playoff game that will long be remembered in the Queen City, and the series has been a physical one in the past, marred by penalties, fights and banter between players on social media.
“We have a new mentality here, we just have single-focus mentality,” defensive end Carlos Dunlap said. “… The history doesn’t matter because the history hasn’t been in our favor. Our goal is to win a Super Bowl. It’s not about winning one game.”
Veteran cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick said the youth of the team makes it a little easier to not get caught up in the rivalry or history.
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“They understand the history between us two, but at the end of the day, it’s kind of good that some of these guys haven’t experienced it because we’re trying to go in with clear minds, clear everything, just going out there and playing our game and not taking nothing that happened two or three years ago or last year and having that same mentality and taking that into the game,” Kirkpatrick said. “We’ve got to be focused. We can’t have any dumb penalties, any outbursts, anything like that. We’ve got to stay focused. We’ll definitely work hard this week. It’s Pittsburgh week. Everybody’s going to be hyped up, ramped up. Practice is going to be ramped up. But so far it’s just been calm here. It’s just another game. I feel we’ve got the tools to do special things around here and they’re just a team in the way for us.”