Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict certainly lived up to his reputation as the NFL’s dirtiest player during his team’s Sunday afternoon home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and it will now be interesting to see if the league takes any sort of action against in him.
Burfict was the center point of one very questionable hit during Sunday’s game against the Steelers and several more plays during that contest easily reveal how the linebacker has every intention of harming players on the other team whenever he’s on the field.
The most notably questionable play from Burfict on Sunday was his hit on Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown with 11:19 left in the third quarter following a catch over the middle. As you can see in the gif below, Burfict attempted to level Brown in the head and neck area with a lowered right shoulder on that particular play.
If you remember the hit that Burfict delivered to Brown’s head and neck area a few years ago in the AFC Wild Card game was a lot similar to his hit on the Steelers wide receiver during Sunday’s game.
Burfict’s Sunday shenanigans weren’t limited to that one play, however, as there were a few other instances during the game in Cincinnati that showcase just what kind of player the linebacker really is and why he currently has the reputation that he does.
Early during the game Burfict attempted to change the course of it by attempting to get a clean shot to the head of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as he attempted to sneak on a 3rd and 2 play that was blown dead just prior to the snap due to a timeout being called. Yes, Burfict missed, but Roethlisberger still wasn’t happy with the attempt on his head made by the linebacker as the two players had a few words after the quarterback got off the ground. Can you imagine if Burfict had connected with the head of Roethlisberger on this play?
“After I did the quarterback sneak that they called back, he got in my face. I said, ‘Hey, listen, it’s good to have you back out here [after Burfict’s four-game suspension to start the season].’ He got all feisty and wanted to fight,” Roethlisberger said.
Later in the first quarter, Burfict once again showed why he has the reputation as being the NFL’s dirtiest player following a completion in the middle of the field from Roethlisberger to tight end Xavier Grimble. Watch how Burfict goes for the head and neck area of Grimble while he’s down on the field defenseless. Burfict’s elbow goes straight to helmet of Grimble. Why is that even necessary? How can this act not go unpunished and especially when you consider Burfict’s history?
Just a few plays after that Grimble catch, Steelers running back James Conner scored on a one-yard touchdown and once again we see the kind of player that Burfict is. A subtle kick to Conner’s head from Burfict while he was on the ground was followed by the linebacker straddling the running back’s head and neck area while he was attempting to get up. These actions elicited a response from a few of the Steelers offensive linemen that resulted in Burfict running to complain to one of the officials in the end zone after being pushed backwards.
The three previous plays I just highlighted for you took place in the first 16 minutes of the game. One series after Burfict attempted to knock Brown out of the game, he showed up on the television tape again attempting to take another shot at the head of Conner. Watch Burfict clearly lead with his helmet on this so-called tackle attempt. How is this even legal? Look at his arms out with no attempt of a wrap up.
After Sunday’s game was over, Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster told the media that “major threats” were made toward him on the field during the contest.
“They were all making threats at me. Dropping f-bombs. Everything. (Vontaze) Burfict was out there lying saying I spit on him, which I didn’t,” Smith-Schuster said. “Most physical game I’ve been in.”
Burfict’s already served several suspensions for his past on-the-field transgressions and it’s clear he still hasn’t learned his lesson. Perhaps the NFL should suspend him for another four or so games to see if that gets his attention. Steelers tackle Marcus Gilbert agrees with me.
“That’s pathetic,” Gilbert said Monday of Burfict’s Sunday hit on Brown. “The NFL has to do something about that. A guy like that going out there and intentionally trying to hurt people, there’s no need for that kind of play in this league. It’s sad. Hopefully one of these days he’ll grow up.”