I have to preface this blog by saying that I waited a couple of days before deciding to do it because, if I had done it right after the Pittsburgh-Cincinnati game on Saturday, there would have been too many expletives that I would have had to delete.
Let me start by saying that I have been watching NFL football since 1957…the year my Detroit Lions pummeled the Cleveland Browns, 59-14, to win the NFL championship (unfortunately for me, that was the last title the Lions have won, but I digress). And I have to say, in all honesty, the game last Saturday between the Steelers and Bengals was the ugliest game I have ever witnessed.
Where to begin? How about when Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger was cheered by Bengals fans when he was injured…or how about the fans pelting him with debris when he was carted off the field? That behavior is totally unacceptable! Perhaps the NFL should penalize the fans a couple of home games in 2016…perhaps, have them played in London, Mexico, or Canada where fans know how to behave themselves!
Still, the Bengals had the chance to win the game and end a 25-year drought since the last time they won a playoff game. They would have done it with backup QB A.J. McCarron, who was trying to justify his play as he filled in for the injured Andy Dalton. McCarron was one minute and 50 seconds away from his place in the spotlight. He had drilled a 25-yard pass to WR A.J. Green to give Cincy a 16-15 lead.
Then, it looked as if the Steelers’ fate was sealed when Vontaze Burfict intercepted a Landry Jones pass with 1:43 left. All the Bengals had to do was run out the final 103 seconds and victory would be theirs. But, alas, that is when the meltdown began happening.
Jeremy Hill, RB for the Bengals, was stopped on a running play and did not protect the ball. It was stripped out and the Steelers recovered the fumble. That is when “Big Ben” came off the bench, injured shoulder and all, to try and lead the offense to a point where a game-winning field goal could be booted.
Cincinnati’s defense was stingy, though, and the Steelers were faced with a fourth down and three yard to go situation. That is when the wheels began to fall off the Bengals’ wagon. A pass to Antonio Brown was incomplete but Burfict, who has had a history of dirty play, came across and belted Brown in the head with his shoulder. Brown was spun around and dropped to the ground, obviously injured. Burfict was flagged for a late hit and the Steelers got 15 huge yards and a first down.
Wait…it gets worse! During the time that Brown was being attended to by staff, Adam “Pacman” Jones was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and that gave the Steelers another 15 yards, this time to the Cincinnati 17-yard line. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin did not wait any further. He sent his field goal kicker, Chris Boswell, onto the field with 14 seconds left. Boswell promptly drilled the field goal and the Bengals were eliminated for yet another year.
A couple of comments: Burfict’s hit was just the latest in a series of dirty plays he has been involved in…three in 2013, one in 2014 and one in 2015. He actually had a late hit earlier this season and, finally, the last straw. Burfict has received a three-game suspension from the league for the start of 2016; but, I wonder if he will still be on the Bengals.
Secondly, Pacman says that Antonio Brown was “faking” being belted in the head and “winked” at Jones as he was leaving the field. Say WHAT??? Mr. Jones needs to look at the play on You Tube…Brown was definitely hit in the helmet by Burfict’s shoulder. Just because he winked at Jones does not mean he was faking it. Jones later said that he would apologize to Brown if he does not play this weekend. So, if Brown clears concussion protocol and does play, then he was faking?
Finally, I would be extremely surprised if Jones is on the Bengals’ roster next season. Even though he was being taunted on the field, he needed to keep his cool. His failure to do so cost the Bengals the game and, perhaps, his spot on the team.