Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward isn't sorry for his blindside block that ended rookie linebacker Keith Rivers' season last month with a broken jaw. But with the teams meeting Thursday night, he's "hurt" that it ended the No. 1 pick's season and he insists he's not a cheap-shot artist.
"If I was really trying to hurt Rivers, I probably would have blocked him low and probably took out his knees and probably ended his career if I really wanted to," Rivers told a conference call with Cincinnati media Tuesday.
"But I'm not that type of player. I threw 200 pounds at a huge linebacker who's running full speed and I made a good block on him. It was legal and he got his jaw broken ... I didn't know that could happen wearing a helmet. ... I know if I go across the middle, those guys are going to hit me the same way."
On the trip back to Pittsburgh Oct. 19, Ward texted Bengals wide receiver Chad Ocho Cinco asking how Rivers was and that he didn't mean to cause injury.
"When Ray Lewis hit (Rashard) Mendenhall and he was lost for the season, there was no apology that Ray sent us," said Ward of Lewis' hit on the rookie Steelers running back. "I'm not going to apologize for what I did. But I told Chad I was very hurt he was out the remainder of the year."
Ward is often compared with Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh although Houshmandzadeh disputes it with, "I'm taller than him, faster than him, quicker than him," but both have high regard for each other.
"Same division, we both catch a lot of short passes, we both do the majority of the blocking for our respective teams in the run game," Houshmandzadeh said. "Hines has been to what, five Pro Bowls? Hopefully if I'm compared to him I'm on my way to four of them."
As Houshmandzadeh comes into the game leading the NFL with 73 catches and 24 third-down catches, Ward says he watches tape of Houshmandzadeh and tries to adopt some of his secrets. Particularly on third down, where Ward has caught 17 balls and leads the league with four touchdown catches. Houshmandzadeh is second with three. Both usually play in the slot on third down when their teams go with three wide receivers.
"He's (got) a great double move," Ward said. "He's breaking cats down on the double move."