Former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Mike Hilton found himself smack in the middle of one of the silliest grievances in the NFL in a while when he referred to the Kansas City Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium as ‘Burrowhead’, referencing Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, who owned a 3-0 record against the Chiefs heading into Sunday’s AFC Championship game.
They say that if you don’t want someone to dance in your end zone then you’d better not let them get there. The same applies to trash talk. The winner gets to talk, so if you don’t want your opponent talking, you’d better beat them.
The Chiefs had to prove they could beat the Bengals. How much they were motivated by the ‘Burrowhead’ remark in a tangible way that actually affected the result of the game is impossible to say, but they certainly noticed it, as you’re probably amply aware.
And so did everyone else, including former Steelers safety Ryan Clark. “The city of Cincinnati better chill out with all of this taunting of Kansas City! Sometimes, you get what you ask for!”, he wrote on Twitter the day before the game. And the next night after they lost, he added, “You knew if they lost the game shot would be taken… and they would be well deserved”.
Hilton isn’t really the biggest trash talker in the world, truth be told, though his fellow cornerback Eli Apple has a tendency of opening his mouth quite a bit. He took numerous shots at Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs after the Bengals defeated them in the Divisional Round.
He’s been, uh, quieter after this game. The only Tweet that he has made since then was a retweet of Hilton, who said that it was a tough loss but that he will take his lumps and move on. Presumably, Apple was trying to echo those thoughts for his own part as well.
The Bengals have won five games in the postseason over the past two seasons, doubling the total number of wins they had in the franchise’s history up to that point. They fell a minute shy of claiming a Super Bowl title in 2021. And they came up just short on Sunday to make it back for another try.
But it’s still much further than Bengals fans are used to. They had not reached a conference final since the 1988 season when they lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl that year for the second time (previously losing to them in the Super Bowl in 1981 as well).
Many hold the opinion that it’s best to carry yourself as though your success is nothing new to you. ‘Act like you’ve been there before’, they say. Well, the Bengals were here last year. But I suppose you could make the argument that they were acting like they’d been there. Perhaps they were acting like there was no doubt they would get even further as well. And now they’re taking that act back to Cincinnati, where they can drown their sorrows in Skyline Chili.