CINCINNATI -- Speaking out for the first time about the hit that broke his jaw, Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers made it clear Wednesday he's looking forward to his next game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Hines Ward.
Ward leveled the rookie with a straight-up block on the fourth play of Pittsburgh's 38-10 victory on Oct. 19, leaving Rivers with a broken jaw. Ward wasn't penalized or fined for the block, which came from Rivers' side as he was chasing a ball carrier.
The first-round draft pick from Southern California has his jaw wired shut. He was in the locker room Wednesday and spoke with reporters about the block.
"I mean, I would have done it," he said. "Honestly, whatever. It is what it is. You know, you reap what you sow. That's what happens. What goes around, comes around. We'll see what happens."
If the injury wasn't so severe, Rivers said he would have done everything possible to be back on the field for the rematch in Pittsburgh on Nov. 20.
"If I was able to -- if I didn't go on [injured reserve] -- I'd do everything in my will," he said. "Shoot some cortisone in my face and I'll go. Whatever."
Reminded that the AFC North teams play twice a year, so he'll have plenty of chances to face Ward again, Rivers responded, "It's all good."
The Steelers and Bengals have a recent history of season-ending hits that left some enmity. Quarterback Carson Palmer -- another first-round pick from USC -- got his left knee torn up on a low hit by Kimo von Oelhoffen during a 2005 playoff loss to the Steelers. During his rehabilitation, Palmer said he hated the Steelers but later softened his remarks.
Rivers was the Bengals' second-leading tackler when he got hurt. Initially, he thought the injury was nothing more than a broken tooth.
"I didn't know I broke my jaw until I got the X-rays and they said it was broken in two places," Rivers said.
Rivers said that Ward hasn't called or sent him a text message. The wide receiver initially celebrated the hit on the field but then showed concern when he realized Rivers was hurt. He gave the linebacker a pat on the back as he walked off the field.
Ward sent a text to Bengals receiver Chad Ocho Cinco after the game, asking him to pass along an apology.
"Hines texted me that night when they got back to Pittsburgh to deliver the message to Keith about him being sorry about the hit," Ocho Cinco said Wednesday. "Again, he was just playing football. He didn't mean to be cheap at all. That's the way Hines has always played the game. He just wanted to send his apology and he was sorry."
Rivers wore a USC stocking cap, a long-sleeve T-shirt and black Bengals shorts on Wednesday. Wires span the top and bottom rows of his teeth, which are clamped tight. He makes an effort to be understood even though he can't move his mouth.
Asked if it hurts to talk, he said, "Sometimes. There are times I don't feel like talking anymore."
Rivers will have the jaw wired for seven more weeks. It will be a couple months beyond that before he can resume a full diet. For now, he's limited to nutrition drinks, shakes and soup. He has already lost 12 pounds.
It's the first time that Rivers has suffered a season-ending injury. A pulled hamstring during his sophomore season at USC was his worst injury to this point.
"I'm just mad," he said. "I've lost a season. Your career is short, and I've already lost one year. It's really depressing and disappointing."