It’s not over. The tweets, the snide remarks, and all that go with a rivalry are still burning. The Steelers’ Mike Mitchell is not backing down and apologizing for the hit he put on the Bengals’ Marvin Jones. Mitchell’s reactions are definitely keeping the fires burning in the rivalry.
The hit in question was delivered on a third down play. Jones was crossing in front of Mitchell after looking open for a brief moment. Andy Dalton delivered the ball high to his receiver, and the Steelers’ Mitchell was there to greet him. Jones was immediately blown up as Mitchell delivered the jarring hit.
Jones lay on the field for a few moments and then made his way to the Bengals sideline. The takedown was legal and part of a game that showcased tons of emotion and hard knocks from the Steelers. The tackle looked like a play from the good old days of football when players were allowed to make huge hits.
The emotion from the Steelers after the play wasn’t appreciated by the Bengals. As he walked away to rejoice with his teammates, Mitchell was high-stepping.
After the game, as reported by ESPN, Jones called the Steelers’ safety “fake tough.” He explains that Mitchell hit him when he wasn’t looking.
“When you turn on the film, you don’t see him hitting anybody when they’re going head up. That’s fake tough,” Jones said. “It’s whatever. He hit me. I just got the wind knocked out of me, and it’s OK. It’s whatever. When guys get all hyped off minor stuff like that, hitting somebody that’s not even looking, that’s fake tough to me.”
The Steelers and Bengals are known to play physical matchups. The AFC North battles are anticipated not only by the players and fans in the respective cities but by sports fans across the nation. The rivalry is one steeped in pride, emotion, and respect. The Steelers have gone 8-3 in the recent stretch of games, since 2010.
The Steelers watched Vontaze Burfict bring down running back Le’Veon Bell on their sideline. Burfict grabbed Bell after an eight-yard gain on a play and rode him out-of-bounds. Steelers’ players say they heard a pop as Bell grabbed his knee. That’s when Burfict seemed to jump up and run to the Bengals’ sideline and celebrate the tackle. The hard hit resulted in Bell being out for the season.
Ramon Foster, a guard for the Steelers, was visibly aggravated when questioned about the situation surrounding Bell.
“He’s that type of guy,” Foster said. “That type of guy will get his sooner or later…. If you’ve played against him, you know what I mean by it. He’ll play it off, act dumb about it, but you don’t run across the field acting hyped, celebrating, running up and down when a guy goes down like that.”
The quotes are coming like fireworks from both the Steelers’ and Bengals’ camps. Andrew Whitworth caught wind of the Foster remarks and chimed in with his own tweet.
With the way things are going, the next game between the Steelers and Bengals may be more like Celebrity Deathmatch. The nature of football is physical and emotional. There are inevitably going to be some hits that result in injury. Some will be more severe than others. In the midst of all that, there will always be intense emotion and yapping that can be taken the wrong way.
Mike Mitchell is a warrior. Just a few days after undergoing concussion protocol, the Steelers’ safety is getting ready to play against the Raiders. His resolve shows the toughness needed to play this game. Mitchell’s opinion was blunt and straightforward, via SB Nation.
“We’re not choir boys, guys. It’s reality. When you see that, it’s real. It’s not Boy Scouts.”
When the Steelers play the Bengals again, on December 13, things will definitely be real.
[Feature Photo by Jared Wickerham / Getty Images]