Bengals confident, focused ahead of tough rematch with rival Steelers

CINCINNATI -- The training staffs for the Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers would be wise to stock up on Band-Aids and gauze ahead of Sunday's key division game at Paul Brown Stadium.

At least, Bengals receiver Marvin Jones thinks they should.

"It's going to be bloody on both sides," Jones said. "We expect that."

One of several Bengals who spoke Wednesday about the anticipated intense nature of this weekend's AFC North showdown with the Steelers, Jones was detailing what he felt will make this meeting more physical than others in the series. A game that has immediate postseason implications -- with a win, the Bengals can reclaim the division crown after losing it to the Steelers last year -- the significance of this contest seems greater than past midseason Steelers-Bengals games.

Then there's the fact the Bengals could do something Sunday they have accomplished only once under coach Marvin Lewis: a season sweep of Pittsburgh. They beat the Steelers in both meetings during the 2009 season, but since 2003, the Bengals have been swept by the Steelers in six separate seasons.

Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick didn't shy away from admitting he felt more was riding on this game than the teams' Nov. 1 meeting at Heinz Field.

"It's special," Kirkpatrick said. "If anybody tells you it's not special, then they're lying. Because we've got a great opportunity to do something we've never [really] done, something that we can hang our hat on. It's a special moment, a special day. It's a day to go out there and win the division. All around, Sunday should be a special day for us."

David DeCastro and the rest of the Steelers are out to spoil Kirkpatrick's day. In the vein of Jones' comment, DeCastro said the following about the Bengals earlier this week: "We don't like them, and they don't like us. That's as simple as it could be."

Asked his feelings about DeCastro's statement, Kirkpatrick had a simple reply.

"Facts," the corner said. "Facts."

Several hard hits were dealt in the early-November game, including one on Jones and another that ended Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell's season. Both of those tackles had players on both teams tweeting or speaking to the media to vent their frustrations about the opposing squad. One player in particular, Steelers linebacker Vince Williams, tweeted his intentions to pay back Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict following the tackle that left Bell injured. Such postgame chatter was an early indication of the animosity that was expected to show up this week.

With the expectation that this game will have similarly bone-jarring tackles administered, the key will be to maintain composure and not get penalties, Kirkpatrick said.

"I'm going to do whatever it takes to protect my teammates. I'm not going to let anybody get cheap shots or anything like that if I'm there," Kirkpatrick said. "Like I said, we know what time it is. We know what type of game this is. Hopefully we can keep our composure, hopefully [Williams] can keep his composure, and [if not] we'll let them be the village idiots."