CINCINNATI — It took the Bengals a long time to get over that playoff loss to Pittsburgh. The trash talking on social media went on for many weeks, with neither side willing to give up the grudge.
The Bengals are minding their manners heading into the rematch — for now, anyway.
Nobody wanted to talk about the Steelers much on Monday, a day after Cincinnati beat the Jets 23-22 at the Meadowlands. Pittsburgh opened at Washington on Monday night.
The Bengals play at Pittsburgh next Sunday in a long-awaited game. Personal fouls on Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict and cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones moved the Steelers into range for a field goal in the closing seconds of an 18-16 playoff win at Paul Brown Stadium last season.
Nobody’s forgotten it, of course. They’re just keeping their thoughts to themselves for now.
“I ain’t talking about Pittsburgh,” Jones yelled to a group of reporters who started to approach him in the locker room on Monday.
When coach Marvin Lewis was asked about the Steelers game three times, he responded with the same six words each time.
“New team,” he said. “New season. New year.”
It’s not exactly the same team that lost to the Steelers in the playoffs. Burfict is serving a three-game suspension from the NFL for player safety violations, including his hit to the head of receiver Antonio Brown during the Bengals’ playoff meltdown .
Burfict and some of the Steelers went at it on Twitter in the offseason.
Burfict changed his Twitter photo to one of him hitting Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh’s DeAngelo Williams tweeted to Burfict: “what are you doing when u not costing your team games,” and then added that the Steelers were looking forward to playing against him again “after your vacation.”
What stung the most from the playoff loss was how the Bengals frittered it away. After taking a late lead, they fumbled the ball and then helped the Steelers move into field goal range with the two personal fouls in the final minute.
“I feel if you go in that mindset of trying to retaliate for last year, it’s not smart,” receiver A.J. Green said.