WATCH: Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster knocks Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict out of game, draws 2 flags
Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict has a reputation as one of the dirtier players in the league, but Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster crossed a line in seeking retribution on Monday night.
With his team trailing 20-13 and looking to tie the game in the fourth quarter, Smith-Schuster peeled back to the inside to block for Le’Veon Bell and found an unsuspecting Burfict on the inside. Smith-Schuster lowered his shoulder and drilled Burfict in the head.
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The hit was bad enough, but then Smith-Schuster proceeded to step over a clearly injured Burfict and taunt him. The Steelers were given both an unnecessary roughness penalty and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the play.
Burfict would eventually have to be immobilized and carted off the field from a hit that seems much more classless given that Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier reportedly suffered a spinal contusion and was himself carted off the field following a hit earlier in the game.
And while there’s going to be a segment of the populations (particularly Steelers fans) who won’t feel sympathetic for Burfict, there’s really no excusing this sort of play when there’s such a serious risk for injury.
Smith-Schuster is lucky to not have been ejected from the game though he’ll need to be concerned with a hefty fine or perhaps even a suspension later in the week that could take him out of a game to potentially clinch the AFC North.
To make matters worse, the Bengals almost immediately responded with a helmet-to-helmet shot on Steelers superstar Antonio Brown as he caught a touchdown pass to tie the game later in that drive. That play will also likely draw a fine and these Bengals and Steelers games continue to live up to their reputation of being dangerously contentious.