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Steelers- Bengals rivalry heating up


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CINCINNATI - At the NFL Combine in late February, Steelers coach Bill Cowher was asked about his mocking of the Cincinnati Bengals' victory chant.

"I know; I know," Cowher said. "I'm not going to be well-liked in Cincinnati."

He got that right.

Bengals fans with long memories aren't hard to find. Just spend five minutes downtown.

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"I didn't like it -- and a lot of Cincinnati fans didn't like it," said Rhonda Hall, manager of a Bruegger's Bagels near Paul Brown Stadium. "They were taking our chant and turning it against us."

"I think it was pretty classless," said Damien Fullinger, 25. "They'd taken out our quarterback (Carson Palmer), and they were rubbing it in our face."

NFL Films had captured Cowher leading his team in a "Who Dey? We Dey!" chant in the locker room after a playoff victory here. It was a play on the Bengals' victory chant, which goes, "Who Dey? Who Dey? Who dey think gonna beat dem Bengals?"

A month later, at the Steelers' Super Bowl victory parade, Cowher again conducted his version of the chant, this time with a quarter of a million Steelers fans.

Cowher stepped to the microphone that day and said, "When I say 'Who Dey!' you say, 'We Dey!' Ready? ... Who Dey?"

The crowd responded to three Cowher prompts, after which the coach exclaimed, "I love that!"

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis didn't particularly like it, but he was quick to use some footage as a motivational tool going into Sunday's game at Heinz Field.

Before practice Wednesday, Lewis showed his players video of the Steelers' locker-room celebration in Cincinnati.

"My first time seeing it was this morning," said receiver Chad Johnson. "Coach played it for us, and, I don't know, it's just ... very rude."

"We don't need any motivation, but (Cowher) said it, and you can't take it off tape; you can't erase it," said defensive tackle John Thornton. "Just like after we beat them up there, guys were wiping their shoes with the Terrible Towels, using it as a bib. It's give-and-take, but those guys, they took it a lot further than we did."

Thornton, an ex-West Virginia star, laughed and added, "You do things after a win that you normally wouldn't do ... but he did it again after the Super Bowl win. I actually went up to a basketball game (in Pittsburgh) to see West Virginia play and people were doing it there, so I guess their whole city likes Cincinnati a lot. We have to take it as a sign of respect."

Cowher insisted in February and repeated yesterday that he meant no harm.

"Imitation is the greatest form of flattery," Cowher said in a conference call with Cincinnati reporters.

Lewis, in his news conference yesterday, initially denied having seen a clip of the Steelers' locker-room celebration. A reporter then informed Lewis that his players revealed he'd shown them the clip earlier in the day.

"They've seen it," Lewis said, smiling. "We do a lot of different things every morning."

Several Bengals players, including Palmer, couldn't have cared less about Cowher's antics.

"People have different opinions of that," Palmer said. "I don't think much of it. I'm sure they were excited to beat us and move on. Who knows what we're going to be saying if we have a chance to beat them and move on."

Offensive tackle Willie Anderson, a long-time voice of reason in the Bengals' locker room, believes the whole thing is a waste of time.

"It was our fault they won the game, you know what I mean?" Anderson said. "They deserved to win. For me personally, I'm not going to use a Who-Dey chant to get me fired up. I'm a professional football player. I'm going to go out there and play hard every week. To me, the old Bengals teams would have used that, saying, 'They used the Who-Dey chant.' Come on, man. Championship teams don't use that." Lewis, apparently, disagrees.

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I thought about that, too. With both the NYG and NYJ on the road, maybe we'll get an extra TV game.

We will get a second game at 4 since Jets and Giants are on the road so I would think we get this game here in NY /NJ area.

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