CINCINNATI—Two gamers carted off, two others suspended, many fines to comply with. One of many NFL’s nastiest rivalries set new lows in prime time, forcing followers to avert their eyes.
What’s to be achieved about this long-running animosity between the Steelers (10-2) and Bengals (5-7)? Do the groups encourage the mayhem by downplaying it? Do the NFL and the networks put it up for sale by exhibiting it in prime time each season?
These questions had been raised within the aftermath of a sport so brutal that it made viewers cringe. Pittsburgh rallied for a 23-20 victory at Paul Brown Stadium on Monday night time, its sixth straight win over the Bengals.
What it’ll be remembered for, although, is the way it felt extra like a road brawl at instances. The NFL responded by suspending Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and Bengals security George Iloka for one sport every on Tuesday, and fines for different gamers are anticipated later within the week.
“I’ll acknowledge there have been some unlucky issues in that sport that we don’t want in our sport — by either side,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin mentioned Tuesday.
As Smith-Schuster apologized for taunting after the sport, receiver Antonio Brown yelled: “Karma! It’s known as karma!”
The NFL’s letter to Smith-Schuster informing him of the suspension mentioned the egregious hit and the taunting “fell far beneath the excessive requirements of sportsmanship anticipated of an NFL participant.”
Iloka hit Brown within the head after his landing catch tied the sport within the fourth quarter. Brown wasn’t harm, however the NFL suspended the Bengals security for the kind of flagrant hit that has “no place in our sport.”
These moments have outlined the rivalry since 2015, when Burfict made a twisting deal with on Le’Veon Bell that left the Steelers working again with a torn MCL. Burfict celebrated — the Bengals say he was simply blissful to make an enormous play — however Bell and the Steelers took umbrage.
Gamers went back-and-forth on social media, they usually received right into a skirmish on the sector throughout pregame warm-ups within the rematch in Cincinnati. They met once more within the playoffs that season at Paul Brown Stadium, and Burfict’s hit to Brown’s head within the closing seconds moved the Steelers in vary for a area objective and an 18-16 win.
In response, the NFL suspended Burfict for 3 video games. Burfict went at it with a number of the Steelers on social media. The uncooked emotions grew deeper.
This 12 months’s unpleasantries started with Burfict refusing to shake Steelers’ palms on the coin toss on Oct. 22 at Heinz Subject. In the course of the sport, Burfict kicked Steelers working again Roosevelt Nix within the chest and was fined $12,154 by the league.
After the sport, Bell tweeted video of Burfict’s kick and mentioned: “man dude gotta go man . . . that’s not soccer AT ALL!!”
The groups went their methods, however didn’t overlook.
After Bengals receiver A.J. Inexperienced was ejected from a sport at Jacksonville for wrapping his arm round Jalen Ramsey’s neck, taking him down and punching him, Bell and Smith-Schuster had enjoyable at Inexperienced’s expense within the Steelers’ subsequent sport at Indianapolis. They re-enacted Inexperienced’s takedown of Ramsey as a part of their landing celebration.
Again collectively in Cincinnati on Monday night time, they wasted no time going at it once more.
On the sport’s sixth play, Bell and Burfict went face-to-face throughout an interception return. Bell grabbed the linebacker’s face masks and shoved him to the bottom, drawing a foul for pointless roughness, a part of a mixed 20 penalties totalling 239 yards. Cincinnati was penalized 13 instances for a club-record 173 yards.
Among the Bengals’ frustration comes from the Steelers’ means to maintain pulling out victories. The Steelers have received six straight, 9 of 10 and 14 of 17 within the collection.
These two groups are by means of with one another for the season — on the sector, anyway. What comes subsequent?
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis — who has steadfastly defended Burfict — is ending his contract and may very well be achieved in Cincinnati after a 15-year run. He’s Zero-7 within the playoffs — together with two losses to Pittsburgh — and he’s Eight-24 towards the Steelers general.
Burfict will keep. He received a contract extension earlier this 12 months whereas serving one other three-game suspension for an egregious pre-season hit. He additionally was ejected from a sport in Tennessee for pushing an official’s arm away.
The query is find out how to hold a rivalry from turning right into a rumble.
“The rivalry is actual,” Bengals linebacker Kevin Minter mentioned after the sport. “We come for them, they usually come for us.”