This was originally published in The Athletic.
You’re going to hear a sound on Sunday. It’s a sound that if you’ve been to a recent Bengals/Steelers game at Paul Brown Stadium, or if you’ve even watched one on TV, you’re very familiar with.
It’s at first, a large, collective gasp, followed by a drawn-out groan that turns into a prolonged stir before settling into the panicked sound of mass hysteria that’s dulled by confident cheers of opposing fans. It’s the here-we-go-again, I’ve-seen-this-before, why-do-I-keep-doing-this-to-myself sound you hear from most PBS crowds the moment when they sense something really bad has just happened, something that’s doomed the home team to yet another debilitating defeat at the hands of their hated rival.
We’ve heard that sound and experienced that moment, in nearly every game the Bengals have lost to the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium.