While many of the Pittsburgh Steelers have been gearing up for an intense, physical game tomorrow at Heinz Field hosting the Cincinnati Bengals, one player in particularly would be perfectly fine with playing as peaceful a game as possible—and it would be hard to blame him.
That would be running back Le’Veon Bell, who has had his season ended twice in games against the Bengals, both in 2014 and in 2015, with a pair of separate knee injuries, the latter resulting in torn ligaments.
The culprit in the latter instance was none other than Vontaze Burfict, who rode him down awkwardly as he was out of bounds, celebrating making the play—some would say celebrating the injury—afterward.
Bell was asked about his history with the Bengals again and if he still believes that Burfict was trying to injure him. He told reporters that it wasn’t just Burfict who was trying to injure him. “The Bengals were”, he said, according to Lauren Kirschman.
So it’s no wonder that he is looking for a much tamer and uncontentious evening in Pittsburgh, since too many of his meetings with the Bengals have not particularly ended in a calm and collected fashion.
“Obviously, I go out there and protect myself at all times”, he told Kirshman. “That’s the main goal of football, I’ll do what I can. That’s the main goal is to protect myself”. He said of players stepping over the lines of decency, “that’s how rivalries go”. It even brings out the fire in David DeCastro.
“We’re going to try our best to go out there and play clean football, play everything within guidelines. That’s what we got to do, go out there and play football and beat them like that”. That’s what he would like to do, and perhaps what the Steelers would like to do, but as they say, it takes two to tango—or not tango…I’m really not quite sure which is which in a metaphor about brawling.
Bell has had each of his past three seasons end prematurely, though last year he simply succumbed to the wear and tear of a growing groin injury that became unmanageable the deeper that the Steelers got into a playoff run.
“It’s going to be what it is,”he said of going up against a playing in Burfict who he believes has the intention of injuring him. “He’s a great football player. I’m going to go out there and treat him with respect and we’ll see what happens”.
The Steelers have, for the most part, attempted to downplay the previous physical combativeness in the rivalry, and it is a strategy that I can understand. They are 4-2 right now and in a position to take an early pole position for the top seed in the AFC. Winning is their focus, no matter the opponent.