Disappointed but not surprised. That’s a fair way to sum up Ben Roethlisberger’s reaction to Vontaze Burfict’s actions in Sunday’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Burfict kicked things off by refusing to shake hands at the coin toss and once the game started, literally kept kicking. He put his foot into Roosevelt Nix’s face on the game’s second play.
Speaking with Ron Cook and Andrew Fillipponi on 93.7 The Fan, Roethlisberger said he’s come to expect that type of stuff from Burfict.
“I can’t say I’m surprised or shocked by it,” Roethlisberger said of Nix getting kicked in the head.
Burfict is not going to be suspended for the kick though he could still be fined later in the week. That kick to Nix was nearly as much involvement as he had in the game, limited to just four total tackles, two of them solo. The Steelers – led by Nix – ran all over the Bengals to the tune of 152 yards on 43 carries. That continued their success on the ground versus Cincinnati. Last year, the Steelers had 124 and 97 yard performances against them.
More surprising was what happened pre-game. Roethlisberger agreed that he couldn’t remember a captain refusing to shake hands with an opponent at the coin toss.
“The pregame thing was a huge shock. Even if you absolutely hate your opponent or whatever, you’d think there would still be a little respect. You’re in the NFL together. You’re one of the elite few. You go out there and stand back, your arms crossed, you’re talking nasty stuff at the coin toss with those kids out there.”
Roethlisberger went on to say that he’s respected rival players in the past even when fans wondered how that type of relationship could exist.
“In the past when I’ve talked about my relationship with Ray Lewis, the respect i had, or Ed Reed, or guys like that. I know sometimes Steelers’ fans are like, ‘What? How could you ever?’ But, you go out there and battle against someone and you give it everything you have. You play hard and physical against each other. At the end of the day, you shake hands and say, ‘Hey, great battle, see you next time.'”
But the Bengals, led by their “captain” Burfict, are a different kind of team.
“With this game and this team, I just put my head down and go to work. I talked to Dalton a little bit. Their defense, I don’t know, the same respect isn’t there. They don’t really have any respect for us.”
At the end of the day, as has been the case in eight of the last nine meetings, the Steelers are walking away victors. Pittsburgh’s defensive captain Cam Heyward leading a group that’s becoming one of the league’s best. And Burfict commanding a sinking ship.