Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict was carted off the field after suffering a head injury during the fourth quarter of Monday night’s 23-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
JuJu Smith-Schuster delivered a brutal block on Vontaze while trying to clear a running lane for Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell on a 12-yard pass. The rookie wide receiver then stood over the fallen Burfict while he was on the ground.
— Tailgate Sports (@_TailgateSports) December 5, 2017
Smith-Schuster was flagged for taunting and unnecessary roughness on the play.
“I was just playing to the whistle,” Smith-Schuster said after the game. “I didn’t mean to stand over him. I was trying to get a big block for Le’Veon Bell for him to get up field. The unsportsmanlike conduct is not me. I shouldn’t have done that. I hope he’s OK and I hope he gets better.”
Smith-Schuster later took to Twitter to apologize.
I don’t have any intentions to hurt anyone when I play football. I didn’t mean to hurt Vontez Burfict, I just wanted to throw a block for my teammate. I apologize for standing over him and that isn’t me. Praying he gets better.
— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) December 5, 2017
“He shouldn’t have stood over him,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “That’s not reflective of the sportsman that he is, and I’m sure he’s sorry for that.”
Antonio Brown didn’t have a problem with the hit. While Smith-Schuster was talking to reporter in the locker room after the game, the Steeler top receiver yelled “karma” repeatedly, then said “Touchdown Brown” will pay Smith-Schuster’s eventual fine.
Asked if that comment was related to Burfict, Brown said, “I ain’t talking about nobody. Karma is karma. Karma is in life. You do the wrong things, you get the wrong things out of it.”
Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green didn’t hold back on his assessment of what happened.
“It was a dirty hit, man. A dirty hit,” Green said. “It’s not called for. We already play a dangerous sport. We all put our lives on the line when we come out here every week, and you don’t want anything like that to happen to a player, no matter what team you play for or how big the rivalry is. We have to protect each other. We already play a high-injury sport.”