The clock is ticking for the Cincinnati Bengals and wide receiver Tyler Boyd to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field.
Boyd is one of the Bengals’ oldest and most experienced players now and he wasn’t even on the team the last time it happened in 2015. It’s significant for Boyd because he grew up 25 minutes outside of Heinz Field in Clairton, Penn. and is one of the best players to come out of the University of Pittsburgh. Boyd did get a win over his hometown team last year when the Bengals defeated the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium, but needs no reminder he has yet to win in Pittsburgh.
“I finally got some pressure relieved after beating them last year, that was my first time beating them in five years,” Boyd said. “Going back home and getting the win there would mean a lot to me.”
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During his spare time at Pitt, Boyd and his close friend and former Steelers running back, James Conner, would drive to Heinz Field to watch practice in hopes they would pick up tips on how to be a professional. During their trips to watch practice, Boyd got to know Pittsburgh’s longtime head coach Mike Tomlin and several players.
When it came time for the 2016 NFL Draft, Boyd knew he was on the Steelers’ radar. He knew Pittsburgh didn’t need a wide receiver in the first round, though. The Bengals drafted Boyd with the No. 55 overall pick, two picks before the Steelers selected safety Sean Davis. And he’s been one of, if not the most, consistent players for the last six years.
Boyd has caught 331 passes for 3,848 yards and 19 touchdowns so far in his career. He was the best offensive player on the field for the Bengals in the 20-17 loss to the Chicago Bears last week.
For the Bengals to prove they can be more than just a threat in the AFC North, they’ll have to learn how to win on the road. Boyd knows firsthand what the challenges playing in Pittsburgh presents. It motivates him even more to some degree.
“I know what the atmosphere is going to be, I know how loud it’s going be,” Boyd said. “If we go in there and quiet that place and win, oh man, (there) probably isn’t going to be a better feeling.”
Both the Bengals and Steelers are coming off disappointing losses in Week 2. It’s expected to be a physical game and as quarterback Joe Burrow said following the loss to the Bears, Cincinnati needs to be ready to play.
“We're excited to go there and play against them,” Burrow said. “They're playing really well. Obviously one of the better teams in the league so we've got to put our big boy pants on and be ready to play.”
Boyd believes this Bengals team, more so than any other year, has the talent to go on the road and beat the Steelers. Now it’s on Boyd, a team captain, to help lead his team to doing so.
“I think this is the most athletic team I’ve ever been a part of in terms of the offense, defense to special teams,” Boyd said. “I’ve never felt the energy in a Cincinnati team until now. Not to say the other teams I’ve been a part of weren’t as good, but this team is just so different. This year the guys we have out there now with the defense, I think this is the year.”