File this in Chapter 1,238 of the Steelers-Bengals book of scorched pages.
Reflecting on the Steelers' 2015 season Wednesday, Pittsburgh running back DeAngelo Williams believes there's "no doubt" a healthy Antonio Brown would have propelled Pittsburgh to Super Bowl 50, possibly facing off against Williams' old team, the Carolina Panthers.
Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict's vicious helmet hit on Brown, the league leader in receptions, in the final minute of Cincinnati's 18-16 AFC wild-card loss left the Steelers' offense vulnerable in the divisional round against Denver. Brown missed the game with a concussion from the hit, and Williams missed two playoff games with a foot injury. He's been fully cleared for offseason workouts.
"For me, my rival throughout my year will be the Cincinnati Bengals," Williams told ESPN. "I don't think there was any doubt in my mind if AB was not interfered on or hit the way he was hit, however you want to label it -- there's no doubt we go on and give the Broncos hell."
Williams cites the Steelers' explosive playmaking and late-season momentum as reasons they would have pushed for the Super Bowl. The late-season communication on offense had become so crisp that Williams described play calls as "non-verbal body language" as Ben Roethlisberger called shots from the line of scrimmage.
Williams said he's not allowed to discuss injuries, but he ensures he would have played in the Super Bowl.
"I would have played on a nub," Williams said.
The Steelers were on their third tailback come playoff time, but Williams is eager to play with Le'Veon Bell for a full season. The two combined for nearly 2,000 yards in 2015 despite Bell missing much of the season with a torn medial collateral ligament.
What will 2016 be like with both players healthy?
"Crazy," Williams said. "When [Bell's] on the field, we've got the potential to do anything and be anything. He's that dynamic of a player that everybody wants to see and wants to be."