As the NFL playoff picture started to come into focus, there was one game in the Wild Card weekend that screamed of intensity. It's the Steelers-Bengals, a classic AFC North matchup of two teams that to say the least aren't fans of each other.
"We love it," said linebacker Arthur Moats. "This is the matchup that we wanted. I am sure they wanted it too. This is going to be good to settle it all. They beat us at our place; we beat them at their place. This is the rubber match.
"It's going to be intense. You have two good teams going at it. There is bad blood between the teams. As a competitor, as a football player, that is the matchup that you want and the one we are going to have to win. And being an AFC North game there is a little extra on top. It's the playoffs. For us to get what we want, any team we face we have to win. Any time you play a division opponent that you have that bad blood with it's always a little extra."
That 'little extra' was felt the last two times the Steelers and Bengals played, with the Steelers winning 33-20 in Cincinnati and the Bengals winning 16-10 at Heinz Field. Both games were physical battles until the end.
"Both times we played them this year things got a little chippy," said center Cody Wallace. "That is what we expect out of these games. It makes it exciting to match up with them a few times during the season.
"All of the AFC North football is fun. We have had some good games with them. They got us once, we got them once. It should be a good game."
The last time the two teams met the NFL handed out a reported $139,000 in fines according the ESPN. None of the players expect anything like that this week, but they aren't going to be singing camp fire songs together either.
"It's going to be an intense game," said receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. "I think we are the only division game in the first round. It's going to be a good game. I expect 110 percent effort from them. It's the playoffs. Loser goes home. They are in our division and they know us well, we know them well. I am expecting a heck of a game."
And with win or go home the end result, expect the intensity to grow even a little more.
"We have seen each other for a long time," said linebacker Sean Spence. "The dislike only grows. We are trying to get to the next round and they are too. There is no love lost."