On Tuesday morning the Cincinnati Bengals tweeted out an image of former Bengals wide receiver TJ Houshmandzadeh wiping his cleats with a Terrible Towel. Cincinnati’s ‘Steelers Week’ tweet was widely criticized, not just by Pittsburgh Steelers fans and former Steelers players, but by NFL Twitter at-large.
But that didn’t stop Houshmandzadeh from doing an interview on Friday with Lindsay Patterson of the Cincinnati Enquirer, in which he tried to explain how his Terrible Towel indiscretion came to pass. Along the way, he also claimed that the only reason the Steelers beat the Bengals in the Wild Card game that season (2005) is because Pittsburgh’s defense went out of its way to injure Bengals franchise quarterback Carson Palmer.
“If they didn’t purposely hurt Carson, in my opinion, they wouldn’t have beat us in the playoffs,” he said, referring to the play in which Steelers defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen hit Palmer in the left knee after Palmer released a 66-yard pass to Chris Henry. Palmer suffered torn ligaments in his knee and the Steelers went on to beat the Bengals 31-17, the first of Pittsburgh’s four consecutive postseason wins en route to a win in Super Bowl XL.
The Curse of the Terrible Towel?
But many Steelers fans believe that Houshmandzadeh triggered the Curse of the Terrible Towel approximately a month earlier, shortly after the Bengals beat the Steelers 38-31 at Heinz Field. Houshmandzadeh scored two touchdowns that fateful December day and after the game he ran off the field waving a Terrible Towel in celebration. But before he left the field, he sat down on the ground and television cameras captured him playfully wiping his feet with the towel.
TJ Houshmandzadeh: ‘It was Fun’
Houshmandzadeh told Patterson that he doesn’t regret desecrating the Terrible Towel—even all these years later.
“For me, it was fun,” he told Patterson. “[The Steelers] looked at it as disrespect, but it was fun.”
But the Bengals didn’t have much fun after that. Cincinnati went on to win two more games to raise its record to 11-3 and win the AFC North. But Cincinnati lost its home finale to Buffalo by ten points and wrapped up its regular season with a 34-point loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
After the Steelers eliminated the Bengals from the postseason, Pittsburgh fought its way to a Super Bowl victory, including postseason wins over the No. 1 seeded Indianapolis Colts, the No. 2 seeded Denver Broncos and finally, the NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks. It was the first time in NFL history that a No. 6 seed went on to a Super Bowl title.
The Bengals-Steelers series resumes on Sunday at 4:25 ET at Heinz Field. The Steelers will meet the Bengals again on Monday December 21st at Paul Brown Stadium.
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