It's still the same rivalry

Names change. Faces change.

But there is one thing that doesn't change.

The Steelers-Bengals rivalry is as strong as ever.

"This is a rivalry," said Stephon Tuitt. "We can't let this slip away from us. We have to go in there ready to fight."

The Bengals lead the AFC North with a 4-1 record, while the Steelers are 2-2-1, but 0-1-1 in the division.

"We have a very important one coming up," said Tuitt. "To shape our future we have to get past them."

It will be the first of three straight AFC North games for the Steelers, and to get back into the race they have to start strong with a win on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.

"It's big for us. This division right now is like a spider web with everything going on," said Ramon Foster. "Each week that we play each other we have to make sure we are on spot with what we are doing. I think both teams realize this division is a lot tighter than it has been in years past. The teams that execute the best and don't hurt themselves are teams that are going to be the No. 1 seed.

"This is a tough game this week. They have always had good teams. They always have a good defense. I have had more people hit me up for tickets to this game than any other game. We understand what is going on right now. Our division is tight. Everybody is vying for a spot as far as trying to make it in the postseason. These games are crucial right now. It's crazy we are playing so many so early. We have to be on point this week."

That is a fact. The Bengals will present a huge challenge for the Steelers, and even though there are some new faces, the offense will still have to deal with going against the likes of Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap.

"They're really good. They are a great defense. They feed off their defense," said Marcus Gilbert. "These guys really get after it. We have to really, really study these guys and get a hang of these guys. They are going to come out swinging and fighting. We have to get our first AFC win."

Rough stretch: Sunday's game against the Bengals will be the first of three AFC North games for the Steelers, with the Browns and Ravens following the bye week. It's not unusual to have three consecutive AFC North games, but to have them at this point of the season isn't common.

"The NFL likes that. They planned it," joked Maurkice Pouncey. "You get the meat of your schedule, especially division. It's going to be hard-fought games. These teams are really good, our division is really good. We have to go out and fight."

A different celebration: T.J. Watt had his second three sack game of the season against the Falcons, and after each sack, Watt doesn't hesitate to celebrate. His celebration though, is just whatever the moment is.

"I always have that moment to myself (after the sack) where I say this feels so dang good," said Watt. "The body just does whatever the heck it wants. That is why I can't stick to one celebration. I just can't figure it out."

Whatever he does, his teammates don't care because it brings energy to the entire defense.

"Whenever you get energy it's contagious, especially early in the games," said Watt. "It helps give us momentum."