The well-documented Bengals-Steelers rivalry added another chapter Sunday, one in which Pittsburgh prevailed in unusual circumstances. Less unusual was a display of animosity by a Cincinnati player, in this case running back Jeremy Hill letting the world know what he thought of Steelers fans’ Terrible Towels.
After scoring on a four-yard run in the second quarter, one that gave the Bengals a 16-3 lead, Hill picked up a Terrible Towel that had fallen to the turf at Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium. He then pretended to tear it in two before making a show of slamming the familiar yellow cloth to the ground.
Cincinnati would go on to take a 20-6 lead before Pittsburgh came back, largely on the strength of a team-record-tying six field goals, for a 24-20 win. After the game, a Steelers fan chided Hill on Twitter for disrespecting the towel, which was met by a tweet from Hill’s account saying, “F— y’all towel.”
That tweet, however, was subsequently deleted on Hill’s account, replaced by one claiming he was hacked. One thing was more certain: The running back had tempted fate by summoning the Curse of the Terrible Towel.
Steelers fans have taken note of previous instances in which an opposing player’s effrontery in abusing the towel came back to haunt his team. The Bengals themselves account for a few examples, such as in 2005, when wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh wiped his cleats with the rally symbol; his squad wound up losing to the Steelers in the playoffs, with then-quarterback Carson Palmer suffering a major knee injury.
Other examples involve the 2008 Titans, the Cardinals in 2009 (lost to the Steelers in that year’s Super Bowl) and this year’s Redskins. Washington’s punter, Tress Way, allowed his mother to burn a Terrible Towel before his team’s season opener against Pittsburgh, which the Steelers won embarrassingly easily, 38-16.
“Anybody that’s grabbed it has had something unfortunate happen,” Steelers offensive lineman Ramon Foster said Sunday (via ESPN). “I hate to say the towel is cursed when you disrespect it, but you can’t do that. That’s too early in the game to be doing that type of stuff. [Hill is] a pro. I’m sure his coaches would talk to him.”
After scoring and having some fun with the towel, Hill was held to a total of -1 yards rushing for the rest of the game. Combine that with his team’s tough loss, one that dropped it to 5-8-1, and it’s no wonder why he was a bit salty about the whole thing.