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Shazier non-call was the right call

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In the wake of Saturday’s Steelers-Bengals game, some have argued that the helmet-to-helmet hit applied by Pittsburgh linebacker Ryan Shazier to Cincinnati running back Gio Bernard was worse than the hit applied by linebacker Vontaze Burfict to the helmet of Antonio Brown.

It looked worse, to be sure. But it was a legal play, for two reasons.

First, Bernard had the ball long enough to become a runner. As a runner, he wasn’t defenseless. Since he wasn’t defenseless, he could be hit in the head or neck area, and with Shazier’s helmet.

Indeed, the fact that Bernard had the ball long enough to complete the catch and make his loss of possession a fumble means that Bernard had become a runner.

Second, the ban against use of the crown of the helmet doesn’t apply in a bang-bang situation. It requires the person delivering the blow with the crown of the helmet to “line up” the target. While close, that’s not what happened between Bernard and Shazier.

So Shazier rightly wasn’t flagged, and he should be omitted from the coming flurry of fines. Bengals fans may not like that, but it reflects a correct interpretation of the rules.

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118 Responses to “Shazier non-call was the right call”
  1. arcaero says: Jan 11, 2016 11:10 PM

    says the Steeler fan

  2. brucetrimble says: Jan 11, 2016 11:11 PM

    His post-hit celebrations on the sideline were classless. Typical bush-league antics of Tomlins players and coaches.

  3. pghguyy says: Jan 11, 2016 11:12 PM

    But but Joey porter! Haha!

  4. norton20 says: Jan 11, 2016 11:13 PM

    If your rationale is correct ( and I’m not saying it’s not) then the rules are complete horse bleep. If you are going to be concerned about player safety, leading with the helmet and being able to hit players in the head is just stupid. There is no common sense reason to permit it.

  5. jr4real says: Jan 11, 2016 11:13 PM

    Bengals can’t handle losing to a better opponent

  6. antikytheraeagles says: Jan 11, 2016 11:14 PM

    You could have at least pretended one of the staff writers put this together so the inevitable accusations of being a biased Steelers fan would not get too out of hand. While your bias IS obvious, it doesn’t make you wrong.

  7. steelerdynasty2010 says: Jan 11, 2016 11:14 PM

    this will only momentarily slow their whining…they will quickly circle back to blaming everything on Joey Porter…and i love every minute

  8. bengalsfreedom says: Jan 11, 2016 11:14 PM

    As a Bengals fan, I am completely OK with that if that is the rule. If I was Burfict next season, I would be looking to lay the same kind of hit on Bell.

  9. cymbaline6 says: Jan 11, 2016 11:16 PM

    “Article 8. Initiating Contact with the Crown of the Helmet

    It is a foul if a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside the tackle box (an area extending from tackle to tackle and from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team’s end line). Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or tackler against an opponent shall not be a foul.”

    Can you please point out to me the “bang bang” exception for that rule? I’m not seeing it. As a note, the word “bang” does not appear in the NFL rule book, much less the words “bang bang”.

    Additionally, the only uses of the phrase “line up” I see in the NFL rule book are those regarding the line of scrimmage. I cannot find the passage you are referring to that absolves Shazier.

  10. curtw20151220 says: Jan 11, 2016 11:16 PM

    If NFL really cared about players safety, then that hit would have should have been a penalty! I

  11. ds2222 says: Jan 11, 2016 11:17 PM

    It says nothing about “lining up” in the official rule. But B for effort.

  12. clintingham says: Jan 11, 2016 11:17 PM

    Sooo are you saying the flag should have been picked up on the but that Williams gave Bryant? Because he took 3 full steps and was a runner also.

  13. mborz says: Jan 11, 2016 11:19 PM

    Everyone brace yourself for the next tidal wave of Bengals tears.

  14. 4rings4brady says: Jan 11, 2016 11:20 PM

    No way.

    Shazier lowered his head and deliberately targeted Bernard. A yellow flag should have been thrown.

  15. champs794 says: Jan 11, 2016 11:23 PM

    “…the ban against use of the crown of the helmet doesn’t apply in a bang-bang situation.”

    Aren’t bang-bang fumbles what the catch rule is supposed to prevent? How can the receiver establish himself as a runner AND it be a bang-bang play?

  16. shaggytoodle says: Jan 11, 2016 11:25 PM

    What isn’t OK is dancing at midfield with 41 while Drs are tending to the person you just hit. Then some more on the sideline.

    That organization lost a lot of respect, the way they handled themselves Saturday Night.

  17. Panda Claus says: Jan 11, 2016 11:25 PM

    Legal call or not, Shazier leading with the crown of the helmet like he did doesn’t pass the eye test. The league wants us to believe it’s serious about player safety. Allowing hits like without penalty or after-the-fact fines proves otherwise.

    It’s one thing if the runner lowers his head to defend or hold off the tackler, but that did not happen in this case.

  18. mjs2012 says: Jan 11, 2016 11:25 PM

    I’m a neutral fan here and I think you’re wrong. He definitely lined up the hit with his crown.

  19. gcstephen13 says: Jan 11, 2016 11:25 PM

    really ??? Ok then then…take away the 15 yard flag on Shawn williams hit to Wheaton. Wheaton actualy had the ball longer… and was running. But somehow the NFL is saying a shoulder hit is worse than a helmet to helmet hit. Nice Try guys.

  20. tonebones says: Jan 11, 2016 11:31 PM

    This guy is a beast. He has a chance to become the best LB ever to play.

  21. 1newprodigy says: Jan 11, 2016 11:32 PM

    HAHA! This is so wrong. Yes he was a established runner, but that isn’t the so called bang-bang play. He took 4-5 steps lining up the hit and hit with the crown of his helmet. He will be fined, and looking that deep to try and justify that hit is just laughable. Should have been a flag, which has been established by many of the experts already, but at the very least will be a fine, and even a suspension is possible but unlikely.

  22. rajtuli says: Jan 11, 2016 11:34 PM

    So a hit that’s concussed someone should have no consequences?

  23. suncawy says: Jan 11, 2016 11:34 PM

    Is Florio trying to get Blandino’s job ? If what Shazier did was legal, what then is all the fuss about concussions and player safety ? Look at the play in slow motion and you can surely see Shazier was leading with his helmet, it wasn’t by accident.

  24. kpweaver27 says: Jan 11, 2016 11:34 PM

    “Second, the ban against use of the crown of the helmet doesn’t apply in a bang-bang situation. It requires the person delivering the blow with the crown of the helmet to “line up” the target.”

    Try as you might, you just can’t use enough flowery language to justify the Shazier hit and vilify the Burfict hit. If anything, Shazier was coming in at the head of the runner, and Burfict was coming in from the side with less vision of the runner.

    The only reason these plays are viewed differently is because of when they happened in the game, and maybe based on which team committed them. If the penalty requires a lining up, then it would be impossible for Burfict to have done that, especially since his helmet never made contact with Brown’s anyways. Not justifying Burfict at all, but I have not seen a legitimate justification of the difference, and never will I am guessing.

  25. brawnyhombre says: Jan 11, 2016 11:40 PM

    Rule 12, Section 2, Article 8: “It is a foul if a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent when both are clearly outside the tackle box.”

  26. dshanky says: Jan 11, 2016 11:41 PM

    Here is the rule:

    Rule 12, Section 2, Article 8. Initiating Contact With the Crown of the Helmet. It is a foul if a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside the tackle box (an area extending from tackle to tackle and from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team’s end line). Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or tackler against an opponent shall not be a foul.

    Are you arguing it was “incidental”? If so… You’re crazy.

  27. jerry0510 says: Jan 11, 2016 11:42 PM

    If you read the rules… It is illegal to spear another player. Shazier is spearing leading with the crown of the helmet. He CLEARLY ducks his head as he went in for the hit

  28. bengal4c says: Jan 11, 2016 11:47 PM

    ARTICLE 8. INITIATING CONTACT WITH THE CROWN OF THE HELMET
    It is a foul if a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside the tackle box (an area extending from tackle to tackle and from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team’s end line). Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or tackler against an opponent shall not be a foul.

    Note: The tackle box no longer exists once the ball leaves the tackle box.

    Penalty: Loss of 15 yards. If the foul is by the defense, it is also an automatic first down. The player may be disqualified if the action is flagrant. PER NFL RULE BOOK. Why was this omitted from the article? But hey Florio if you think it’s incidental contact more power to ya.

  29. db105 says: Jan 11, 2016 11:49 PM

    What about the hit earlier in the game by the Bengals DB that got called for a hit on a defenseless receiver? The Steeler WR took multiple steps after catching the ball.

  30. cruisekid says: Jan 11, 2016 11:50 PM

    So let me get this straight Mike. It’s late in the game and my team needs the ball back. All I have to do is use my helmet as a weapon, hit the runner in the jaw with the crown of my helmet, knock him out and I get possession of the ball back.

    I noted you site no rule. Here’s my prediction, Shazier will get fined. If not, another rule will be implemented to address yet another Steeler cheap shot like the Kimo Von kneeoffen shot to the knee and the Hines Ward 15 yard running start blind side hit both of which were perpetrated against the Bengals…

  31. eezyxyz says: Jan 11, 2016 11:50 PM

    The rules are so confusing these days. If you’re saying that he did not “line up” Bernard for the hit, then perhaps you could be specific about how “lining up” would have looked different. By any conventional understanding of that phrase I would say Shazier did line up the hit.

  32. bobhpine says: Jan 11, 2016 11:54 PM

    By ruling that Bernard fumbled, it follows that he was not defenseless and that he was a runner. He obviously caught it and established possession, otherwise it would have been ruled incomplete–in which case the defenseless receiver interpretation might have been applicable.

  33. bkachurak says: Jan 11, 2016 11:54 PM

    If he had time to become a runner and was then hit helmet to helmet without a flag, doesn’t that mean it wasn’t a bang bang play? To me Shazier had plenty of time to aim somewhere besides his head. Regardless, helmet to helmet should be a penalty. Steelers have been know for years as taking cheap shots. When your coach is willing to try and “tackle” a player from the sideline you can only expect the same behavior from the players.

  34. ajigel says: Jan 11, 2016 11:55 PM

    Lets not kid ourselves, the league is less concerned with player safety than they are figuring out what a catch is

  35. bengals3285 says: Jan 11, 2016 11:56 PM

    Your opinion is that he had the ball long enough and became a runner… Our opinion is that he didn’t. Then again, if you think he should be considered a runner, then Sean Williams hit on Wheaton was legal and that would be an atrocious call. Then we move on to the burfict hit. Yes that could go either way. It is clear that burfict was attempting to go for the body with his shoulder but that hit is a flag 99% of the time so it is what it is. However, it should have been offset by the coaches shoving burfict and when Joey porter came on the field to talk smack. Really convenant that the refs “forgot” that rule. All the bengals players were begging the refs to throw a flag. Should have been offsetting penalties. Atrocious officiating in this game, and yes I’m probably a little biased but I don’t think I’ve ever seen this bad of aficiating

  36. ajigel says: Jan 11, 2016 11:56 PM

    So by this logic, Burfict should have squared up Brown and hit him helmet to helmet instead of using his shoulder, right?

  37. bengals3285 says: Jan 11, 2016 11:57 PM

    Officiating*

  38. jtm12180 says: Jan 12, 2016 12:00 AM

    bengalsfreedom says:
    Jan 11, 2016 11:14 PM
    As a Bengals fan, I am completely OK with that if that is the rule. If I was Burfict next season, I would be looking to lay the same kind of hit on Bell.

    ——————————–

    Guess you’ve conveniently forgotten how he dove on Bell’s leg and blew his knee.

    Now…just shut up

  39. whodeytn says: Jan 12, 2016 12:02 AM

    But the hit on Wheaton that was flagged was the correct call? He took THREE full steps and was still called a defenseless receiver. Gio Bernard caught the ball, turned around and got knocked out. Ridiculous.

  40. funkysylvanelf says: Jan 12, 2016 12:04 AM

    What about the hit Shaun Williams made on Markus Wheaton? Why it was flagged? Wouldn’t the same rule applied? This is just up to “interpretation, so they can call whatever whenever they want.

  41. mikebrownistheworstownerinprosports says: Jan 12, 2016 12:05 AM

    Okay…by that logic, then Shawn Williams shouldn’t have been flagged for his hit on Wheaton. Wheaton took 3 steps before getting hit by Williams, yet was considered “a defenseless receiver”. The officiating of dirty hits was inconsistent at best, biased at worst.

  42. maalea says: Jan 12, 2016 12:06 AM

    I love how it’s bang-bang enough to use your helmet, but not so bang-bang to be defenseless.

    As usual, up is down and black is white, in the NFL.

    No one knows what a catch is and now no one knows when a blow to the head is a penalty.

  43. daysend564 says: Jan 12, 2016 12:09 AM

    It is cool if you spear the runner in the head.

  44. stevosupremo89 says: Jan 12, 2016 12:09 AM

    bengalsfreedom says:
    Jan 11, 2016 11:14 PM
    As a Bengals fan, I am completely OK with that if that is the rule. If I was Burfict next season, I would be looking to lay the same kind of hit on Bell.

    Seriously man? You openly admit that you want other people to get injured. As a fan of neither team I would never root for criminals to go injure other players. Classless comment from a Salty Bengal.

  45. walleye436 says: Jan 12, 2016 12:13 AM

    In college that would have been “targeting” and he would have been gone from the game….at least the NCAA has it right

  46. sneakyqb says: Jan 12, 2016 12:13 AM

    Bengals should be thankful the refs made the wrong call and blew the play dead. Took 6 points off the board for Pit.

  47. headin4seven says: Jan 12, 2016 12:14 AM

    And 9 Bengal coaches came out on the field during the Bernard injury timeout.

    But, but Joey!

  48. coltcountrysteelerfan says: Jan 12, 2016 12:17 AM

    bengalsfreedom, trying to line up a hit like that would be lining up the hit, this a penalty and a fine and in Burficts case probably a suspension.

    But hey, stay classy Cincinnati

  49. steelhammer92 says: Jan 12, 2016 12:21 AM

    It should have been a return TD for Shazier… 22-0, game over. The ref screwed up by blowing it dead. None of the ensuing stuff would have happened, including the injuries to Ben and Brown.

  50. bengalobserver says: Jan 12, 2016 12:22 AM

    The crown of the helmet rule was put into place to protect both the defender and the runner. The whole “Heads Up” campaign by the NFL ring a bell? I’m not sure they would agree with the “bang-bang” clause you’re proposing, Florio. I certainly wouldn’t be teaching my children to tackle that way. In the spirit of safety and the intent of the rule, the play in question should have been flagged.

  51. savvybynature says: Jan 12, 2016 12:30 AM

    And btw, by definition, every time someone makes a tackle they are “lining up” the person they are tackling, right? Unless they are making the tackle on accident?
    Shazier’s tackle definitely wasn’t accidental.

  52. pittsburghdamned says: Jan 12, 2016 12:34 AM

    Nelson and Burfict can’t tackle anyone without cheap shots to knees or heads.

    I get great pleasure knowing their suffering in having to be a Cincinnati Bungle for a career in the NFL

  53. bayousooner90 says: Jan 12, 2016 12:38 AM

    He led with the crown of the helmet which is illegal. Defenseless or not The hit should have been flagged. If player safety is the real concern then every hit to the head should be flagged.

  54. crusty14 says: Jan 12, 2016 12:42 AM

    Yeah, but Munchak getting his hand caught in the bengals guys predator dreadlocks started it all !you people are ridiculous!

  55. chadp2351 says: Jan 12, 2016 12:44 AM

    How about the Shawn Williams hit where he was flagged. Bryant caught the pass took at least three steps after catching the ball lowered his shoulder as Williams lowered his shoulder and made a huge hit. Complete BS, Florio you are a freaking joke like the NFL is becoming and an obvious Homer!

  56. dkms2k says: Jan 12, 2016 12:44 AM

    I thought you were supposed to see what you hit and that the NFL promoted “Heads Up” football. Sorry but I think it was a bad hit and he should have been flagged. That wasn’t bang bang either. I’m a fan of neither team but that shouldn’t be an ok hit.

  57. sdiegosteel says: Jan 12, 2016 12:48 AM

    It’s typical that Bengals fans wouldn’t know that. It’s disgusting that so many people who are paid to speak and write about football didn’t know such basic football facts, including 75% of the talking heads on a certain four letter network.

  58. princeopus says: Jan 12, 2016 12:49 AM

    burfict is a marked man now,pitt,baltimore,carolina,,,this wanna be tough guy is going to be taken out of several games nxt year,he will see a lot of hi lo chop blocks,expect pain by design crack backs,,,better take out a lloyds policy on his knees

  59. rjpats says: Jan 12, 2016 12:56 AM

    I’m just looking forward to hearing from Steelers fans how tough Ben and Antonio are with their totally real and not at all exaggerated injuries when they trot out there and play like nothing happened next weekend.

    Ben Roethlisberger is the toughest player in the league. Just ask him and he’ll tell you.

  60. morriswilliam569yahoocom says: Jan 12, 2016 1:05 AM

    Shazier lined him Gio up for that hit. Tell me how you say Gio had the ball long enough to be a runner then say Shazier hit was a bang bang play? If you watch the play Shazier took at least 3 or 4 steps with his head up them lowered his head the last 2. So that’s at least 5 steps before he hit Gio but that’s bang bang. Guess the NFL only worries about player safety and concussion sometime. Just admit NFL you wanted Pittsburgh to when the game.

  61. bengalsfan2079 says: Jan 12, 2016 1:06 AM

    Whatever, continue to make the Steelers look like the heroes in this that’s what the media is telling everyone because they won the game.

  62. -Alpha- says: Jan 12, 2016 1:07 AM

    Bull, it wasn’t bang-bang. Shazier left his feet to spear him in the face. It should have been 15 yards, an ejection and a fine.

    But that wouldn’t have benefitted the “favored team”.

  63. eagles512 says: Jan 12, 2016 1:10 AM

    Still think it was a penalty but it was bang bang. I don’t have a rooting interest and think Pacman is an idiot but I think his penalty was bull. Either let it go for reacting to porter or offset penalties.

  64. jolink653 says: Jan 12, 2016 1:14 AM

    Huh? Shazier made no attempt to hit with his shoulder. He led straight with the crown of his helmet. How can the league say that’s a legal hit when the whole point of emphasis for the new rules was to not use the crown of the helmet as a weapon or a battering ram? Not only did Shazier use the crown of the helmet, he made contact with the head and knocked Bernard out. The whole crackdown on the rules was to prevent concussions, and that was one of the most blatant concussion-causing hits I’ve ever seen. How can that possibly be a legal hit?? The league can’t even straighten out their own rules. What a joke

  65. morriswilliam569yahoocom says: Jan 12, 2016 1:16 AM

    Can’t believe the say Shazier hit was a bang bang play then you say Gio had the ball long enough to be a runner. Maybe I don’t understand bang bang play. Shazier had more time then Burfict to react to the hit on Giovthen Burfict had on Brown. Then I guess player safety matters sometimes. You are allowed to use the crown at certain times and its legal that’s safety for you. Plan and simple it was a cheap shot. And it was clear who they had winning this game by any means necessary!

  66. -Alpha- says: Jan 12, 2016 1:17 AM

    Just watched it over again repeatedly. I think he was defenseless. He was spinning around trying to get under control. Shazier zeroes in then lowers his head as he hits to make sure he drives the crown of his helmet into Bernard’s face.

    I went into the game not caring who won. After that play I was cheering for the Bengals. Dirty, ridiculous and clearly okay with the Refs who wanted to make sure the stealers won. And….mission accomplished. Just like it’s fine for the stealers to spear a guy helmet to helmet, a bang bang call with a shoulder from the Bengals is a personal foul. A stealer coach can even come out on the field to instigate and taunt. It’s all good…right?

  67. redsoxu571 says: Jan 12, 2016 1:31 AM

    The “defenseless player” rule is Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7.

    WHAT ABOUT RULE 12, SECTION 2, ARTICLE 8???
    ARTICLE 8. INITIATING CONTACT WITH THE CROWN OF THE HELMET. It is a foul if a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside the tackle box (an area extending from tackle to tackle and from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team’s end line). Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or tackler against an opponent shall not be a foul.

    That’s the ENTIRE rule. Where is this mystery talk about bang-bang hits? There is neither an explicit mention, nor any clarification or example provided. The ONLY listed exception is that it allows for incidental contact. Shazier’s hit was not incidental; heading full steam towards Bernard, he lowered his head and charged it directly into Bernard’s facemask.

    Lest we need further proof as to why this was not “incidental”, the hit knocked Bernard out cold…which is also why he fumbled. The NFL doesn’t want helmets to be used as weapons, and football fans don’t want fumbles caused by helmet hit blackouts. We want to see players make great football plays, not over-the-top physical contact.

    I was rooting for Pittsburgh in this game, but I’m sorry, this was a penalty, any claim otherwise is either out of ignorance or intentional distortion. Period. End of story. And I greatly regret that once the officials missed the crown-of-the-helmet call that they could review the fumble but not the penalty. That doesn’t make any sense, that they could call a non-fumble, then see that a fumble did happen BUT only due to an illegal hit, but then be forced to call it a fumble but not with the proper overriding flag. The NFL needs to fix that…but not before PFT fixes its understanding of the rules.

  68. tk1966 says: Jan 12, 2016 1:33 AM

    Something about that play that has been forgotten in the chaos that ensued at the end of the game; the play should have resulted in a Steeler touchdown. Shakier caused a fumble, picked up the ball and ran it into the end zone. He was not touched to be down by contact. However, the refs erroneously whistled the play dead, and the Steelers took over the ball at the point of the fumble. If the refs make the right call (no whistle), the Steelers have 21 points pending the extra point, making the remaining circus of a game a moot point. (Also of note, in the ensuing possession, Ben was injured. If the fumble was not whistled dead, Steelers kick off to Cincy, and Ben doesn’t get injured). Food for thought for all those claiming the refs are biased in the Steelers favor.

  69. -Alpha- says: Jan 12, 2016 1:41 AM

    Rule 12, Section 2, Article 8. Initiating Contact With the Crown of the Helmet. It is a foul if a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside the tackle box (an area extending from tackle to tackle and from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team’s end line). Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or tackler against an opponent shall not be a foul.

  70. labfan30 says: Jan 12, 2016 1:46 AM

    Bengalsfreedom:

    don’t you think that douche bag has intentionally injured enough people? I thought the hit was a dirty one and by Shazier and the celebrations were classless.

    I didn’t think it could be topped. The Bengals fans and than Burfict proved me wrong.

    To Recap: Not a Steelers or Bengals fan, but there is no room in this game for intentionally injuring other players. Burfict has done it multiple times. He is lucky he’s even getting another chance.

    Just out of curiousity (morbid I guess), why in the hell would you want that guy to take the cheap shot? Seriously, don’t you want him playing like an all star, controlling his emotions and leading you to glory? You really watched the game on Saturday night and think it’s a good idea for him to play the payback game? That he won’t cross the line?

    Bengals fans, of all people, should realize how moronic that is.

  71. hlna55 says: Jan 12, 2016 2:01 AM

    I said exactly the same thing almost word for word in another post. Trust me. Bungals fans just don’t get it. It’s like a bunch of monkeys arguing about which banana is less yellow. What’s the point. It was the right call and now they’re going to say that reporters refs and the league are all in on the steelers conspiracy. Might as well include the cia and fbi. This goes right to the top!!

    Or… Bungals lost cause they lost their minds against a more playoffs experienced team that knows how to win a close game.

  72. arkadyrenko says: Jan 12, 2016 2:11 AM

    Keep carrying the NFL’s water. Maybe someday Roger Goodell will invite you to dinner.

  73. antneejay2 says: Jan 12, 2016 2:18 AM

    Not being defenseless means one is able to defend one’s self. Simple enough. I get that. What I don’t get is why Bernard, in spite of being able to defend himself, would opt not to.

    What else I don’t get is jr4real’s comment about the Bengals not being able to handle losing to a better team. Does that mean that they find losing to a worse team acceptable? I have always been under the impression that NFL teams generally don’t care much for losing at all.

  74. jjmeier1 says: Jan 12, 2016 2:19 AM

    So, the receiver had clearly established himself as a runner, but it just wasn’t long enough for it not to be a “bang bang play.” It’s that sweet spot when u can legally try to take a players head off. In my opinion that play was no more “bang bang” than any other play you see on the field.

  75. beelicker says: Jan 12, 2016 2:39 AM

    From the proper replay angle Brown (after taking at least 2 steps) did in fact initiate the crown of his own helmet launching down into the top & backside of Burfict’s right shoulder pad as Burfict was ducking under to miss Brown … top of the crown being the ONLY point of impact on this play … watch the tape. From the proper angle you can see Brown see Burfict 7 then drop his head into this ‘hit’ as Burfict is passing by…

    Not saying there wasn’t somewhat violent contact there either … but Brown purposely sought it out intending to draw the reflex flags the zebras kneejerk throw on Burfict if it even looks close … & it worked!

  76. cdace13 says: Jan 12, 2016 2:51 AM

    YOU’RE WRONG!!!! Read the rule book.

  77. beelicker says: Jan 12, 2016 3:01 AM

    & how’s that again? This replay I’m looking at clearly shows Shazier lowering his head below the level of his own nameplate on the back of his jersey & then with his helmet quite forcibly initiating contact with (1st) Bernard’s facemask, then (2nd) Bernard’s helmet just below the earhole & then (3rd) Bernard’s ‘head & neck area’ … & then he somewhat ‘wraps up’ the now-unconscious ballcarrier. Can’t see how this falls under any definition of the one exemption for ‘incidental’ contact by Shazier as he clearly led AND made first contact with the helmet?

    ARTICLE 8. INITIATING CONTACT WITH THE CROWN OF THE HELMET. It is a foul if a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside the tackle box (an area extending from tackle to tackle and from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team’s end line). Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or tackler against an opponent shall not be a foul.

  78. bigbenh8tr says: Jan 12, 2016 3:43 AM

    I’ll preface this by saying I’m a Dallas fan.

    That being said, please feel free to edit your current post amd correct it after you see the fine.

    No need for a new post to act like you weren’t wrong

  79. coolzog says: Jan 12, 2016 3:50 AM

    Is the term “bang-bang” actually in the rule book? I’d love to see that definition.

  80. 2ruefan says: Jan 12, 2016 4:24 AM

    Sorry. Dont buy it. Hiw do yiu judge it was not “lined up”?

    Shkuld have been called.

  81. campcouch says: Jan 12, 2016 4:57 AM

    Weird how a Bengal levels a receiver with a shoulder hit and it’s targeting, but drive your helmet into a guy’s head as he’s turning around and it’s all good. But hey, game over. Too late.

  82. brad3112 says: Jan 12, 2016 5:37 AM

    You are completely right, Mike. The Steelers actually got robbed on the play, Shazier picked up the fumble and took it all the way to the house- should have been TD Steelers had the refs not blown the play dead.

  83. jathomas724 says: Jan 12, 2016 6:02 AM

    You all keep posting the rule that says the runner must be outside the tackle box AND more than 3 yards past the line of scrimmage. Then you conveniently leave out the fact that Bernard was hit 1 yard past the line of scrimmage. That is why it wasn’t a penalty. You can say the rules should be changed. But those are the current rules. So don’t blame the refs. Plus because the refs screwed up and blew the whistle it cost the steelers a touchdown on the fumble recovery.

    Also. Steelers had 10penalties for 142 years. Bengals 8 for 79.
    Also. The bengals should have been flagged for excessive celebration on the burfict interception.
    Also. Joey was on the field but was walking off when he got hit from behind by a bengals player. Then the ruckus occurred.
    Also. Bengals coaches were all on the field when Bernard was hurt.

    The refs aren’t ‘out to get you’. Calls go both ways in every game. Stop crying.

  84. dirtdawg54 says: Jan 12, 2016 6:14 AM

    If you think PFT is pro-Steelers, please look up every article they posted on Big Ben during his challenges and James Harrison. You aren’t going to find many “pro-Steeler” articles there.

    Everyone has their narrative. And they will adjust the facts to fit it. And as a result every time this site says something that is against that narrative the commentators flood the site and say they are “pro this” and “anti that”. Maybe they’re just doing their best to tell the truth as they see it.

    Ask yourself this, are you not biased against the Steelers by suggesting this site is “pro-Steelers”? I’m going to bet you are.

  85. dbfan4ever says: Jan 12, 2016 7:02 AM

    Not a Bengals or Steelers fan here but if that hit is “legal” it needs to be made illegal like yesterday!

  86. hitwjk says: Jan 12, 2016 7:14 AM

    Let the Bias flow through you…

  87. etjla says: Jan 12, 2016 7:15 AM

    And no one mentions that if the play was legal, Bernard fumbled and Shazier revovered without being touched. He would have easily scored a TD. The refs cost the Steelers 7 points with that quick whistle. Plus if that happens Ben and Brown probably aren’t injured.

  88. sariff420 says: Jan 12, 2016 7:16 AM

    Jtm…he didn’t dive on Bells leg. He launched himself from behind Bell and tacked him around the back waist. Its just that Bells leg ends up getting caught underneath Burfect as they are going down.

  89. iaviking says: Jan 12, 2016 7:17 AM

    I must be getting old. When did spearing become legal?

  90. dreadnok89 says: Jan 12, 2016 7:25 AM

    Blame mccaron for that hit. Led beenard right into it.

  91. neilpountney says: Jan 12, 2016 7:31 AM

    This is where the NFL’s protestations of taking care of players hits the wall. What does it matter what your status is, a hit to the head is a hit to the head.

    Circumstances do not change the effect of the blow, it doe snot hurt less if you are a runner!!!

    More political speak from the NFL offices!

  92. pensfan1 says: Jan 12, 2016 7:52 AM

    In a sense I agree with Florio on this one. Posnanski said the game is 11 players assaulting 11 others trying to do the same to them with only a person in a striped shirt and a whistle trying to stop them. It’s a violent sport for 10 out of every 60 seconds where you are only allowed to be violent in that 10 seconds. Every player is going to hit every player with all parts of their body and that includes with everything they are wearing. Trying to determine what is player safety or not comes down to what a striped shirt sees in context of the rule book in a split second. The call or infraction takes another split second of the 10 violent seconds or a very short conference to discuss the rules as allowed by TV time. In business these type decisions would take hours long meetings. Kudos for refs trying to gt it right then be measured by the masses who have nothing but time to analyze what they had a few seconds to determine. The way the rules are written don’t help as they appear more to dwell in settling the court of public opinion feelings than they do about true player safety and the integrity of the game.

    College football got the helmet to helmet rule right. Not crown or incidental contact. Call it what is is – targeting – and make it a disqualification foul just like they do when it happens. It will eliminate a lot of what this discussion is about. At least it defines intent vs a subjective decision by the refs and all of us.

  93. steel691968 says: Jan 12, 2016 8:54 AM

    That was a good hit by Shazier if it was illegal he’ll get fined if he doesn’t get fined then please let it rest because then it was clearly legal because the NFL fines the steelers for EVERYTHING! In my opinion it could have went either way! It’s the call of the official..which it should have been a TD but they blew the whistle prematurely at that point the game would have been out of reach..but the Steelers gift wrapped a victory for them and they still found a way to lose..the best team won this game!

  94. cruisekid says: Jan 12, 2016 9:02 AM

    Bengals radio broadcast analyst Dave Lapham reported that the officials admitted to Marvin Lewis that they were wrong to flag Williams for the Wheaton hit.

  95. bigginfragable says: Jan 12, 2016 9:10 AM

    ajigel says:
    Jan 11, 2016 11:56 PM

    So by this logic, Burfict should have squared up Brown and hit him helmet to helmet instead of using his shoulder, right?
    —————————————————————-

    This might actually be one of the dumbest things I have read on these message boards for the following logical reasons.

    1. Brown was never a “runner”. In fact, he never had possession of the football as it was an incomplete pass.

    2. By the NFL’s definition, he was 100% a defenseless player.

    3. The hit came at least a full second after Brown landed and Burfict leaned his shoulder into Browns head. That is full on targeting. Anyone who thinks 1 second is not that much time, it is plenty of time to slightly alter your trajectory and avoid contact. He would have easily missed Brown had he even made an attempt to do so.

    Burfict gets no benefit of doubt when he makes statements before the game, that you can expect at least 1 Unnecessary Roughing Penalty from him because of the animosity between the teams.

    He was looking to hurt someone in that game pure and simple.

  96. peytonwantsaflag says: Jan 12, 2016 9:14 AM

    you’re never so foolish sounding as when you try to justify a an incorrect call that you agree with.

    there is no “bang bang” part of the rule and you know it.

    also, if the hit “looked to be worse”, and was more dangerous (which it was), and created a greater injury (which it did), shouldn’t PFT- harbingers of all things fair and safety related- be arguing that it should be illegal?

  97. dontlikecravens says: Jan 12, 2016 9:17 AM

    This was a very tough way to lose a game. I’d rather that the Steelers marched down the field and scored without the penalties. However, the sour grapes that the Bengal fans are squashing are better than Jerry Springer hosting a trailer park love triangle cage match.

  98. JCM1217 says: Jan 12, 2016 9:28 AM

    Here’s the thing… regardless of what the rule is, you have to call the plays consistently. If the hit on Wheaton was illegal, where Shawn William hit him with his shoulder, then you have to call the same penalty on Shazier, who led with his helmet. That’s the only issue here. Call the game consistently. I recognize that, at full speed, it’s a tough call to make, but if that’s the case… make the plays reviewable. That’s the only way to get it right consistently. College does this, and has player ejections as part of the call. That’s the best way to clean this up. Because, if the league determines, after the fact, that the hit by Shazier was illegal, a fine doesn’t change the fact the his hit knocked out our most sure-handed running back (could have come in handy on final drive), and forced a change of possession.

  99. steelcurtainn says: Jan 12, 2016 9:33 AM

    What do you have to say about that bengal fans? Shazier should of scored a td and steelers up 22-0. The game would have never been close from there on out.

  100. ronnyw9 says: Jan 12, 2016 9:41 AM

    I’m sure this has been said already and I’m not a fan of either team but it may have been a legal hit but it goes totally against what the NFL is trying to do. Stop head injuries. Another blunder by the NFL. All the lawsuits by former players who have suffered permanent brain damage go out the window when the NFL claims a hit like that is legal.

  101. pops459 says: Jan 12, 2016 10:11 AM

    This article could not be more wrong. A defender can not lower his head and use the crown of his helmet to hit an offensive player in the head. It’s very, very simple, and it’s beyond obvious that Shazier did exactly that. It doesn’t matter that Bernard was not defenseless, or how many steps he took, he got speared. Watch a replay.

  102. millerjj660 says: Jan 12, 2016 10:38 AM

    I just wonder what would have happened if Burfect hit Bell like Shazier hit Bernard.

  103. sdiegosteel says: Jan 12, 2016 10:47 AM

    By the comments and thumbs here, you can see that Bengals fans don’t have much to do this week. On to Denver!

  104. canadapackers says: Jan 12, 2016 10:52 AM

    He targeted the head with his head. Definitely should not be allowed and was a dirty play and dangerous for both players.

  105. mjincincy says: Jan 12, 2016 11:07 AM

    The Bengals lost control and that ultimately cost them the game. I agree with Burfict being both penalized and suspended. That said I can’t see how Shazier’s hit was legal and if it was, the NFL needs to spend a little less time worrying about what a catch looks like and focus on eliminating all helmet-to-helmet contact! The eye test says that hit wasn’t “unfortunate,” it was illegal!

  106. dagator8888 says: Jan 12, 2016 11:10 AM

    You are showing your bias here. This was an obvious foul. Bengals were flagged for their indiscretions. Steelers were not. Fans should be used to this by now. If the NFL tries to justify their refs decisions instead of just saying they missed it then they lose all credibility….as if they had any anyway.

  107. scchamil says: Jan 12, 2016 11:30 AM

    millerjj660 says:
    Jan 12, 2016 10:38 AM

    I just wonder what would have happened if Burfect hit Bell like Shazier hit Bernard.
    ——————

    Banned for life… possibly brought up on criminal charges. I’m serious. I really think that is what would happen.

    Look at how people reacted (are still reacting) to his mundane tackles against Ben and Bell… note to Mike Carey, those tackles are definition of “unfortunate” plays. Normal plays where someone gets hurt through no reasonable fault of the other player (we should remember that they aren’t trying to take them down gently). That is “unfortunate” – spearing with crown of the helmet into another players jaw is not unfortunate. It is going to knock someone unconscious or break their jaw 9/10 times.

  108. marthisdil says: Jan 12, 2016 11:48 AM

    norton20 says:
    Jan 11, 2016 11:13 PM

    If your rationale is correct ( and I’m not saying it’s not) then the rules are complete horse bleep. If you are going to be concerned about player safety, leading with the helmet and being able to hit players in the head is just stupid. There is no common sense reason to permit it.

    ============

    But you’re ok with stiff-arms, chop blocks, etc.

    riiiiight

  109. jmd0722 says: Jan 12, 2016 12:00 PM

    Is the NFL complete idiots? This is like what is a catch, just make the rule helmet to helmet a penalty. Don’t let there be an interpretation of whether the player was lined up to spear. Sometimes the NFL can be so dense.

  110. gmg425 says: Jan 12, 2016 12:36 PM

    the fact that Bernard had the ball long enough to complete the catch and make his loss of possession a fumble means that Bernard had become a runner.

    If the goal is to prevent head trauma injuries, that statement is utterly irrelevant. Whether the player was defenseless doesn’t matter as much as this was a case of spearing.

    If the NFL wants to protect players from head injuries, which it’s said is its goal, then Shazier’s hit was every bit as much a penalty as Burfict’s hit.

  111. smasonsmith says: Jan 12, 2016 2:21 PM

    That was textbook spearing and missed by the zebras.

    Of course, the “textbook” or rules of the NFL are so damn big and confusing that even the zebras forget parts of the book.

  112. smasonsmith says: Jan 12, 2016 2:34 PM

    You all keep posting the rule that says the runner must be outside the tackle box AND more than 3 yards past the line of scrimmage. Then you conveniently leave out the fact that Bernard was hit 1 yard past the line of scrimmage. That is why it wasn’t a penalty.
    ===
    It wasn’t a penalty because the officials just missed it.

    BTW: You’re misinterpreting the rule. It’s just outside the tackle box. You’re replacing a logical OR with and AND. Let’s review 12-2-8:

    “ARTICLE 8. INITIATING CONTACT WITH THE CROWN OF THE HELMET. It is a foul if a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside the tackle box (an area extending from tackle to tackle *AND* from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team’s end line). Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or tackler against an opponent shall not be a foul.” (*Emphasis added*)

    The “three yards” you’re referring to is in the discussion of the tackle box – which extends from tackle to tackle AND from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offense’s end line. Those are its boundaries. To be outside the tackle box a player can be either more than three yards beyond the LOS, OR outside the tackles. The receiver/runner in this case was outside the tackles and therefore not inside the TB – which also no longer existed because the ball had left the TB.

    Should have been spearing.

  113. fecalstains says: Jan 12, 2016 6:09 PM

    I love how everyone (sad sad Bengals fans) is like, “you’re wrong”…”here is how you’re wrong…”, when no analyst, current or former refs, or anyone associated with the league is saying that was an illegal hit. Yeah, that’s right, everyone associated with NFL football, guys who have been watching and judging these things for years, they are all wrong, but some dumbass in the comments section on the internet figured it all out and has the correct interpretation of the rules. Jesus.

    Both teams had some missed calls. I (Steelers fan) don’t think the Wheaton hit should have been flagged, on the flip why wasn’t Burfict and the 3 or 4 other Bengals who damn near ran to the locker room after the interception flagged for excessive celebration? Calls were missed or overzealous for both teams, spoiler alert that’s sports for you.

    Steelers didn’t win that game, Bengals lost that game. Bengals players and fans need to pull up their Big Boy Pants and realize that there is no conspiracy here, the Bengals beat the Bengals and the only people saying otherwise are fans who don’t understand the sport and players whos vision is blurred by their own tears
    And hell, Steelers had nearly twice as many penalty yards than the Bengals so shut up with that “NFL wanted the Steelers to win”, grow up and take a loss.

  114. fanofpft says: Jan 12, 2016 6:26 PM

    Not only is it illegal to lead with helmet. It puts the perpetrator in danger as well.

    It has been happening so much they may as well just give all players clubs to do battle with.

  115. smasonsmith says: Jan 12, 2016 6:58 PM

    Yeah, that’s right, everyone associated with NFL football, guys who have been watching and judging these things for years, they are all wrong, but some dumbass in the comments section on the internet figured it all out and has the correct interpretation of the rules. Jesus.
    ====
    It’s not the fans fault that the zebras don’t know their own rulebook. If they’re not going to enforce spearing, maybe they should just delete that section? Of course… that would belie that they don’t care about concussions.

    I’m a football fan first and a NEP fan second*, and it’s plays like Shazier and Burfict made that will bring the legal pain down on the league. They need to make like the NCAA, enforce their rule book, penalize and eject players who do that.

    *Which means I wanted the PIT to win until Ben got hurt.

  116. igglesfan9 says: Jan 12, 2016 8:55 PM

    It’s precisely because Shazier’s hit was legal that I won’t allow my kids to play football. Also, if it’s a legal hit then he won’t be fined?

  117. dntmater says: Jan 12, 2016 11:01 PM

    Not a legal hit because he led with the crown of the helmet. If it is true I hope the Bngals start hitting the steelers exactly the same way next year and often.

  118. occamslaces says: Jan 13, 2016 3:00 AM

    On your own darn site:

    NFL officiating video stresses new “crown of the helmet” rule
    Posted by Michael David Smith on August 6, 2013, 12:18 PM EST

    “The first rule change prohibits a runner or tackler from initiating forcible contact with the crown of the helmet outside the tackle box,” the video’s narrator says. “There are three components to this foul: First, the player must line up his opponent. Second, he must lower his head. And third, he must deliver a forcible blow with the crown of his helmet to any part of his opponent’s body. The crown is the very top of the helmet. This rule was designed not only to protect the player receiving the blow, but also the player delivering it. Violations of this rule will result in 15-yard penalties for unnecessary roughness, and potential discipline. If the contact occurs in the tackle box, or if all three components are not present, there is no foul.”

    GOOGLE IT and READ YOUR OWN DARN ARTICLE.

    Shazier hit Gio Bernard in the facemask with the crown of his helmet. Outside the tackle box. That’s 15 yards, and Bengals keep the ball.

    Joey Bosa’s feeling good though because he wouldn’t get called for what got him kicked out of the Notre Dame game…

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