Looking back on it and actually listening to the entire quote, what Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd said after his team defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers back in Week 3 was actually more scathing than I initially even realized.
“They portrayed[…]to the whole nation[…]what they were about and how they gave up” is a pretty powerful thing to say, and he did, in my opinion, say it with some earnestness. Yet the Steelers, at least publicly, have paid it no mind, when asked about it.
Outside linebacker T.J. Watt dismissed it out of hand when he was asked if it’s something that was discussed in the locker room this week. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick said that it’s something that sounds good after a win, but that’s about as far as it got among their players. Head coach Mike Tomlin was asked about it yesterday.
“You know, you mentioned that last time and I laughed, and I continue to laugh. We’ve just got so many more tangible challenges that should inspire us, and that’s just the reality of it”, he said. “We can’t waste a lot of time worrying about Tyler Boyd. They’ve got a guy like Ja’Marr Chase lighting up scoreboards and running behind people. We’d better focus our energies on Chase if we’re zeroing in on any particular receiver”.
The Cleveland Browns really lived it up last year when they beat the Steelers, admittedly in the postseason, after Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster’s “the Browns is the Browns” quote from an interview took on a life—and context—of its own. They adopted it as a motto of their own, and mocked Pittsburgh, particularly Smith-Schuster.
Imagine if Boyd said this after a win over the Browns, prior to a rematch. This is what the Pittsburgh native wide receiver said about his hometown team after the Bengals defeated the Steelers back in Week 3:
I think the good thing about that win was, not only did the Steelers feel it, everybody in the country felt it, because the last plays of the game for them, they gave up. You could see it; they had three drops in a row, and for a team to see that, it’s giving us more power, giving us the antidote to know how good we are. For a team to just lay down like that before the game is over—because no matter what, no matter how much we’re losing by, whatever the case may be, I know us, and I know me, and we’re not giving up. We’re gonna continue to try to make plays and make something happen. But they portrayed it to the whole nation, on TV, what they were about and how they gave up. So we’ve just got to take advantage.
— Steelers Depot 🦃 (@Steelersdepot) November 27, 2021
The two teams have followed a similar trajectory since that meeting, the Bengals sitting at 6-4 and the Steelers at 5-4-1. Cincinnati would be in much better shape with a win than the Steelers would be, but whoever comes out on top—barring a tie—would move into second place in the AFC North.