If you watched the Wild Card playoff game between the Bengals and Steelers this past Saturday, you may have come away from that contest thinking those two franchises hate each other.
Well, that’s because they do.
“We don’t like them, and they don’t like us,” Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “It’s always been a big rivalry, and now some dudes just take it to the extremes. There’s a lot of chippiness going on, like dirty plays and everything. So you’ll want to bring your A-game and make sure you’re on point so you won’t get hurt.”
Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, however, did get hurt in the 18-16 victory. Big Ben sprained his AC joint and tore ligaments in his throwing shoulder, while Brown was concussed by a vicious hit courtesy of Vontaze Burfict.
Bryant expects both to be available this Sunday in Denver.
“Everyone should be ready to play,” Bryant said. “I haven’t heard anyone say they was going to be out. I just saw AB yesterday. He’s fine, walking around like normal like he usually do. Everyone will be ready to go this weekend.”
The Steelers are 4-1 in their last five road playoff games, in large part because Roethlisberger has made big plays in big moments. He returned from injury late in the fourth quarter against Cincinnati and promptly led the Steelers on a nine-play, 74-yard drive that culminated in a game-winning 35-yard field goal by Chris Boswell.
Roethlisberger finished 18-of-31 for 229 yards and a touchdown.
“He’s just a great leader,” Bryant said. “He has everyone’s back. He’s a veteran, so he’s been through everything.”
Roethlisberger is also not afraid to call out his teammates, including Bryant, who combined for two catches for six yards in Pittsburgh’s final two regular-season games. Roethlisberger said that the ultra-talented wide receiver needed to work harder and play tougher.
Bryant responded with a scintillating 10-yard touchdown catch and a 44-yard rush against the Bengals, among other highlights.
“I wasn’t thinking (Ben meant what he said) in a bad way,” Bryant said. “I am tough and I have been focused. He was telling me basically he loves me as a little brother but that he needed me to step up this weekend. This was going to be a big game. That’s how I took it. I never took it no bad way.”
Roethlisberger will need another big fame from Bryant this Sunday, as the Steelers will be going against the top-ranked defense in football.
“You just got to play smart,” Bryant said. “They’re a great team – a great defense, great offense. So it’s going to be a good game. We just got to play our game and do our part and not try to do too much. We just got to practice hard during the week and just go out and execute and play hard in the game, just have fun and play the game of football. If you do that, then everything else will take care of itself.”
Kickoff is at 4:40 p.m. ET.