As a Pittsburgh native, Cincinnati receiver Tyler Boyd surely knows the history of the Steelers-Bengals rivalry. Boyd was in middle school when former Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh cleaned his cleats with a Terrible Towel, an act that fired up the Steelers ahead of their win over the Bengals in that year’s wild-card playoff round. Boyd was a receiver a Pitt when the Steelers and Bengals engaged in several hotly-contested contests that included Pittsburgh’s gritty 18-16 win in Cincinnati in the 2015 wild-card round.
Boyd may have just added his name to the Steelers-Bengals rivalry. On Monday, Boyd — who opened the scoring on Sunday with a 17-yard touchdown catch — accused the Steelers of not playing hard during the final moments of Cincinnati’s 24-10 victory.
“The last plays of the game, they gave up,” Boyd said, via Bengals reporter Mike Petraglia. “You could see that. For a team to lay down like that … we’re not giving up. They portrayed it to the whole nation. … To go in there and bully them.”
Neither team played with much intensity in Sunday’s final two kneel downs by Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow in the “victory” formation. Moments earlier, the Steelers’ offense tried in vein to make the final score look more manageable before Ben Roethlisberger’s fourth-down attempt to running back Najee Harris fell incomplete. After the game, Roethlisberger vowed that there would be no quit from him or his teammates.
“I’ll point the thumb at myself and try to get it figured out,” said Roethlisberger, who threw two interceptions to Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson on Sunday that resulted in 14 Cincinnati points. “I’m a little stumped by it. I’m frustrated. I’m hurt. I hate losing. Never going to quit and give up. It’s frustrating because I know the work that we all put in. … We’re busting our butt. We’re having great days of practice, we’re having great walkthroughs, good meetings. Just hope at some point it clicks for us.”
Boyd’s flamboyance is certainly understandable. The Bengals’ second-round pick in 2016, Boyd committed a costly fumble in his first game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. He lost his first nine games against his hometown team before the Bengals finally broke through in Week 15 of the 2020 season. And after enduring four losing seasons to begin his career, Boyd’s team is currently 2-1 entering Thursday’s game against the 0-3 Jaguars. As Burrow told the media on Sunday: “It’s an exciting time to be a member of the Bengals.”
Boyd’s comments will certainly get back to Pittsburgh, where the Steelers are licking their wounds following a second consecutive loss at home. His comments will surely be a hot-button topic when the two teams face off again in Week 12 in Cincinnati. In the meantime, the Bengals will try to continue to ride their momentum following early-season wins over Pittsburgh and Minnesota. The Steelers, on the other hand, will have to find a way to win games in order for their rematch in Cincinnati to have any significant relevance.