The difference is in the eyes of the typical nfl fan (and announcer, and talking head, and ref, etc). The steelers are a team that plays very hard and has a history of toughness while the bengals are a team full of thugs that play dirty all the time.
When Williams said he was going to put a bullet in Burfict on the street did it even get into the national conversation? Has a questionable play by a bengal ever had a benefit to the team in a game a la the Shazier hit on Gio where the only thing the refs needed to discuss was whether he should be rewarded a touchdown or not to go along with the turnover? Ward breaks Rivers’ jaw and it later becomes a foul. Kimo dives into Carson’s knee and it is determined later that it is a penalty (after it later happens to Brady). Mitchell celebrates helmet to helmet hits that send off a player for the game (which get flagged) but it doesn’t even get mentioned in highlights or dialogue. Contrast that with Burfict who deserves some form of ‘karma’ for the same plays that made the sterling reputation of the steelers a decade or two ago.
i get it though, the steelers have rings so they must be doing it right while the bengals narrative has been bound to losing and melting down which leads one to point the finger at Burfict.
Even with Ben the white mamba’s past off the field transgressions and Porter’s crap they still are covered under the national love fest for the steelers because they win. And because the bengals lose in shameful and embarrass ways they get blamed for the over-the-line play. Hell when Harrison played his year with the bengals he had four times his yearly average in personal fouls versus when wearing yellow pants.