Notebook: Still bitter about Bengals' WR

PITTSBURGH – Reporters in two cities hoped to stir up some blather between the Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, and thought they'd struck gold when Bengals receiver Chad Johnson announced that he wants to fight Joey Porter at midfield before the game.

Porter ruined the party, though, by saying, "I really can't get into it because it's fake. … He's the type of guy who'd say, ‘hey, Joey let's act like we're going to get in a fight.'"

The reporters went away with dashed hopes, but there is a bitterness the Steelers hold towards a Cincinnati receiver, and his name's not Chad Johnson.

"You have a guy like T.J. [Houshmandzadeh] who says something slick and you kind of want to get him. You know what I mean?" Porter said. "He's gotten as if he's tough or something.

"Yeah, he had a good year last year. He had a couple catches on us when they beat us, so at that point in time he was feeling really good about himself and he had some things to say. He was the first one to pull the towel out and wipe his shoes with the towel, so that set up a natural dislike for him anyway. There's always been a green light on him whenever we can."

In the Bengals' 38-31 win at Heinz Field last December, Houshmandzadeh, in a clip used by NFL Films clip, wiped his shoes with the Terrible Towel.

"Oh, yeah, he did do that, didn't he?" said Steelers tackle Max Starks. "He looks like a girl, so it don't matter to me. It was a feminine thing to do."

Houshmandzadeh missed both Bengals games this season with an ankle injury, but could return for Sunday's game. He's listed as questionable. Last year he caught 12 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown in the regular-season games. In the playoffs he caught four passes for 25 yards and a touchdown.

"Great slot presence," said Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor. "He plays with a whole lot of confidence."

And that's what the Steelers hope to knock out of him Sunday.


At last year's victory parade in Pittsburgh, Steelers Coach Bill Cowher mocked the Bengals' "Who Dey?" chant from his podium. Yesterday, Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis was asked about it.

"Bill did that?" Lewis said. "I wouldn't think he would do that. I have not seen that."

"We haven‘t talked about that as a team," said Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer. "It didn't bother me at all. I understand."

Both coach and player were caught in lies, however, when Johnson blabbed to reporters in Cincinnati that Lewis showed the Bengals the tape of Cowher's mock chant earlier in the day.

"That's the type of inspiration they need, just like we needed the one where T.J. was wiping his shoes with the Terrible Towel," said Porter. "So they're going to use that as inspiration and we think they should because it's going to be a dogfight when they come into Heinz Field."


Steelers rookie receiver Santonio Holmes is listed as questionable with a sore foot. He said someone stepped on it during Monday's game. Holmes was the only player to miss Wednesday's practice. Also listed as questionable is Troy Polamalu (shoulder). Listed as probable are LB Larry Foote (groin), CB Bryant McFadden (quad), WR Hines Ward (hamstring) and WR Nate Washington (finger).

The Bengals placed defensive end David Pollack on injured reserve, and ruled out of Sunday's game C Rich Braham (knee), SS Dexter Jackson (ankle), reserve LB A.J. Nicholson (hamstring) and reserve WR Tab Perry (hip). Reserve WR Antonio Chatman (groin) is doubtful and Houshmandzadeh (heel) is questionable. Listed as probable are DT Sam Adams (knee), WR Chris Henry (groin), OT Levi Jones (ankle), CB Deltha O'Neal (knee), LB Brian Simmons (knee) and OG Eric Steinbach (back).

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