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NFL loves/hates (loves) Steelers-Bengals aftermath

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In the aftermath of Saturday night’s Steelers-Bengals debacle, the NFL was publicly wringing its hands by issuing suspensions and threatening fines. Privately, the NFL was rubbing its palms together with glee.

It’s the post-Concussion equivalent of the Bone Crunchers phenomenon, from the days when the NFL not only downplayed the long-term effects of brain injuries but also sold highlight videos featuring the most spectacular concussion-inducing hits. When it comes to players and coaches acting like hooligans during games, the NFL has imposed punishment while quietly reveling in the afterglow of a game that held an audience of 27.5 million during the worst of the bad behavior not in spite of it but perhaps because of it.

The revelry isn’t all that quiet. The NFL morning show that used to be called something else but that now has another name that eventually will be something else played earlier in the hour a package of NFL Films video and sound from the Steelers-Bengals game. And, of course, it featured not examples of football skill and uplifting moments among teammates but the various instances of discipline-inducing conflict.

It starts with a shot of Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak pulling the hair of Bengals safety Reggie Nelson, and then the two of them and others tussling on the sideline as an official tries to pull them apart. It then shows Steelers linebackers coach Joey Porter smugly surrounded by Bengals players as the game-deciding moment arrives, with Bengals cornerback Pacman Jones charging in and making contact with an official while protesting Porter’s presence on the field.

Next, Bengals running back Jeremy Hill confronts multiple Steelers following the legal-but-devastating hit applied by Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier to Bengals running back Gio Bernard, with Hill repeatedly saying, “That’s dirty!” as an official pulls him away.

Then comes Bengals coach Marvin Lewis trying to calm down linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who eventually breaks away from Lewis to yell directly to the NFL Films camera, “They want a wrestling match! They want a wrestling match! We gonna give to to ’em!”

And of course that’s followed by a shot of Burfict’s finishing move on Steelers receiver Antonio Brown. Which, given that Burfict considers it a wrestling match, makes Pacman’s allegation that Brown was “faking” his injury even more understandable.

The package then cuts to the anguish of Hill, whose fumble set up the drive that resulted in the back-to-back penalties (one on Burfict, one on Pacman) that gave the Steelers the game.

It ends with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin meeting Lewis at the middle of the field saying, “I’m sorry about that. I’ll talk to you later.”

The NFL Films highlight package played on NFL Network contained not a single image of the uncanny (and, frankly, not valid) touchdown catch from Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant, who caught the ball behind his leg, got two feet down, and flipped forward out of the end zone.

If a fight had broken out immediately after the score, then maybe it would have made the cut.

Next on the NFL morning show came more highlights under the NFL Replay “Game of the Week” heading. Think about that one for a second. The Seahawks and Vikings played a subzero game for the ages in Minnesota, featuring plenty of big plays and clean hits and memorable images and, ultimately, a devastating miss of a field goal that would have allowed the Vikings to reverse a 31-point blowout from only five weeks before. But the “Game of the Week,” marketed after the fact with the worst moments of the game not the best, gets more attention.

Here’s where I’m tempted to say that the NFL can’t have it both ways. But the NFL is having it both ways, because the NFL knows that, while it has to act like it doesn’t condone thuggish behavior, millions of people love to watch it.

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97 Responses to “NFL loves/hates (loves) Steelers-Bengals aftermath”
  1. stevedeberg says: Jan 14, 2016 8:56 AM

    Yeah, that game where one team appeared certain to win the game until their running back fumbled with under 2 minutes left and then the other team drove down the field aided by two 15 yard penalties to kick the game winning field goal with 14 seconds left was pretty boring and shouldn’t have been considered for game of the week.

  2. sonhoodoo says: Jan 14, 2016 8:57 AM

    Is this rating uncommon for a playoff game? I would expect the audience stayed on because it was a close game and not decided until the end.

  3. qbarrel says: Jan 14, 2016 8:57 AM

    WWE 2.0

  4. enoughofthatalready says: Jan 14, 2016 9:00 AM

    The NFL Films highlight package played on NFL Network contained not a single image of the uncanny (and, frankly, not valid) touchdown catch from Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant, who caught the ball behind his leg, got two feet down, and flipped forward out of the end zone

    If he caught the ball and got two feet down before flipping out of the end zone, how is it not valid? Here we go crybabies in 3….2….1

  5. jagsandliquor says: Jan 14, 2016 9:00 AM

    When Tomlin tripped the raven’s kick returner he let the coaches know they should interfere with players. Agree with you on the NFL having it’s cake and eat it.

  6. joetoronto says: Jan 14, 2016 9:00 AM

    The one thing that stands out the most when watching clips of the way the game used to be is the hits on the QB’s.

    They were just another player on the field and there was no “defenceless” rule. Those QB’s had to be tough as nails, they had no choice.

  7. punksinplay says: Jan 14, 2016 9:01 AM

    Shazier’s hit was not legal.

  8. enoughofthatalready says: Jan 14, 2016 9:01 AM

    I guarantee that both games will be in prime time next year.

  9. ctiggs says: Jan 14, 2016 9:02 AM

    Most exciting game all year!

  10. 6superbowls says: Jan 14, 2016 9:06 AM

    Burfict, Pacman Jones, and Gillberry are a disgrace to the league.

  11. shaunypoo says: Jan 14, 2016 9:06 AM

    Whether it was called or not, that hit on Bernard was not legal.

  12. marvsleezy says: Jan 14, 2016 9:08 AM

    Those hits and that ugliness is what determined the outcome – like it or not they are just fairly covering what actually happened and not white washing it.

    And I cant believe you want them to only cover the pretty moments without showing what really happened?

  13. jefbob says: Jan 14, 2016 9:08 AM

    Two things about this article.

    Shazier’s hit was not legal. He clearly led with the crown of his helmet.
    Bryant never has posession with 2 feet down.

  14. buckethead1 says: Jan 14, 2016 9:16 AM

    On to Denver…..

  15. joseferreira1967 says: Jan 14, 2016 9:18 AM

    I like to watch football. If I liked watching grown men behaving like idiots there are plenty of other options.

    What the league should be worried about is increasing the quality of football played, not promoting morons!!!

    There are a handful of decent teams in the NFL right now. Most teams are mediocre and look like amateurs on the field.

    People are happy with what happened in that game!?!? Maybe the NFL is turning into WWE after all!!!

    Good luck with that…

  16. dtroxallday says: Jan 14, 2016 9:18 AM

    Did he really say ” We gonna give to to ‘ em!”?

  17. romophobic says: Jan 14, 2016 9:20 AM

    I’ll give you this, you certainly have a creative imagination. Of course they focused on all of the terrible behavior of these two classless organizations, that was the story from the game!! You’re upset that they covered what people are interested in and somehow think it makes them hypocrites? Come on.

  18. harrisonhits2 says: Jan 14, 2016 9:21 AM

    Goodell’s National Integrity League

    Fine and penalize players and then promote that behavior for your own profit.

    Goodell is vile

    Goodell must go

  19. whodeytn says: Jan 14, 2016 9:22 AM

    LOL, your QB is a rapist for Christ’s sake!

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

    Burfict, Pacman Jones, and Gillberry are a disgrace to the league

  20. gotitan says: Jan 14, 2016 9:22 AM

    I’ll bet the Steelers and Bengals don’t play until after week 3 next season.

  21. plum54 says: Jan 14, 2016 9:24 AM

    The NFl loves the fact that Pittsburg players are injured thereby giving their golden boy Peyton a chance. The fact that the NFL is ignoring a banned substance being sent to him home is telling. Imagine if it was Giselle who had that delivery. It would be another witch hunt against Tom.

  22. romophobic says: Jan 14, 2016 9:26 AM

    Something else that’s really grinding my gears these days; football is a violent sport played by the some of the fastest and strongest men on the planet. By nature, it’s going to involve violent and devastating hits that can, on occasion, render someone out cold. That is just the way it is. If you pansy, limp wristed wimps, who like to observe butterflies as they fly from flower to flower in your garden can’t handle it, I suggest watching something that isn’t nearly as violent, like maybe Downton Abby or Mike and Molly. Stop trying to take your lack of physical toughness or your opinion of what football should be and force it upon something that was successful before you could express your opinions and will be successful far after your ashes are spread across the grounds of Grey Garden.

  23. doubleogator says: Jan 14, 2016 9:30 AM

    If security wasn’t so strict they’d be shootng each other too…

  24. dohczeppelin says: Jan 14, 2016 9:30 AM

    Eh, screw the clowns who don’t even bother trying to play by the rules. Suspend them all and be done with it. Not sure what is so difficult about this.

    That Bryant catch though… oh my god. They played the replay of that about a dozen times and from every angle I was just stunned. Absolutely amazing. I don’t know if it was instinct or luck or skill or what (probably some combination of the 3), but that’s easily a top 10 catch of all time.

    It was even more impressive to me than the Beckham one handed catch that is referenced endlessly and keeps getting forced down our throats.

  25. kissmytaintpatriotswinagain says: Jan 14, 2016 9:31 AM

    Shazier’s was legal, once the recover establishes control and becomes a runner the are no longer considered defenses. It does not matter that Shaker lead with his helmet.

  26. steeltroll says: Jan 14, 2016 9:36 AM

    Face it: the only time a receiver on your team will make a catch like Bryant made is in your dreams. Jealousy. It fills the goblet from which Steelers Nation happily drinks.

  27. TheDPR says: Jan 14, 2016 9:36 AM

    What works in games like that to boost the ratings is that the extra-football stuff like you typically get between two dirty teams or teams with a handful of dirty players is interesting to the marginal football fans.

    All fans of the pure sport will be watching all of the playoff games anyway. The boost in ratings comes from the marginal fans, much like Super Bowl ratings come from the general public far more than from actual football fans.

    Seahawks-Vikings = some great football about which marginal fans care little.
    Steelers-Bengals = some good football with a bunch of blockheaded WWF/WWE/WHATEVER mentality thrown in.

  28. cymbaline6 says: Jan 14, 2016 9:37 AM

    The hit on Bernard was not legal. Didn’t you read any of the comments on your post where you tried to argue that it was, Florio? Or barring that, the NFL rule book? Textbox crown of the helmet hit. The refs missed it.

    I’m a little shocked that you’re willing to doubt the Bryant catch, which I’m reluctantly willing to accept as a TD even though I still have my doubts (because what is a catch anymore?). And hey, catch or no, it was a pretty awesome play.

    >Then comes Bengals coach Marvin Lewis trying to calm down linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who eventually breaks away from Lewis to yell directly to the NFL Films camera, “They want a wrestling match! They want a wrestling match! We gonna give to to ’em!”

    Well, he was right about that, at least. The only thing that game was missing was Roger Goodell running in from off the sideline and smashing Burfict over the head with a metal folding chair. Pure WWE dreck.

  29. cabosan1978 says: Jan 14, 2016 9:41 AM

    By the sounds of this page – even Cincinnati’s fans can’t see what a disgrace their team is and how it’s run. Play with class. Cheer with class. Don’t throw garbage on the field you clowns.

  30. johngaltx says: Jan 14, 2016 9:43 AM

    NFL=Godzilla

  31. nflfan22 says: Jan 14, 2016 9:43 AM

    Two things about this article.

    Shazier’s hit was not legal. He clearly led with the crown of his helmet.
    Bryant never has posession with 2 feet down
    ———————————
    …And AJ Green clearly false started on the go ahead TD play. What’s your point?

  32. linji45thgen says: Jan 14, 2016 9:45 AM

    Shazier’s hit was definitely not legal. And, if you look at the hit on Brown, you distinctly see him throw up his arms at the end as he’s going down, exactly like Manu Ginobili does when he flops.

  33. steelpenguin6687 says: Jan 14, 2016 9:45 AM

    Did it also include the video of AJ Green false starting on the TD catch, how about Hill taunting William Gay after the TD catch, or the one where Burfict and other Bengals players ran 60 the wrong way celebrating, and finally the clown move Burfict put on BB after the sack when he drove his knee into his shoulder??

    Oh, and further, I missed the part where BB was convicted or even charged on the supposed assault…I sure hope someone would post a link..it would be an interesting read for sure…

  34. crusty14 says: Jan 14, 2016 9:48 AM

    Hey jagsandliquor, when did tomlin trip someone? Never! Although he was slightly on the field, he never made contact with anyone, stop making things up!

    Or do you really believe that happened in your head movies?

  35. whodeytn says: Jan 14, 2016 9:48 AM

    Yet Shawn Williams was flagged earlier in the game for a hit against Wheaton after he had taken THREE FULL STEPS. They called him a defenseless receiver. It was also a shoulder hit, his head wasn’t involved whatsoever. In Gio’s play, he caught the ball, turned around and got knocked out.

    Refs favor Pittsburgh in these types of calls, it was quite obvious.

    ==========

    Shazier’s was legal, once the recover establishes control and becomes a runner the are no longer considered defenses. It does not matter that Shaker lead with his helmet.

  36. wledlund says: Jan 14, 2016 9:48 AM

    Why don’t we just make them the first NFL Blitz teams?

  37. rajtuli says: Jan 14, 2016 9:48 AM

    Didn’t need this article to point out the obvious. The league likes the theater and with theater comes the ratings.

  38. ricko1112 says: Jan 14, 2016 9:49 AM

    Wasn’t “integrity” the word that was being tossed around during the off season? Integrity of the League?

    One player inspires a persecution, the vileness and ferocity of which has not been seen since the Inquisition, just because Mother Nature did what Mother Nature has always done.

    Yet, another player receives HGH (a fact that has not been denied) at his home and his phony “outrage” is taken at face value. This despite the fact that he has played for the 2 most despicable teams in NFL history! Salary cap violations, vaseline, illegal chop blocks, phony crowd noise, blatantly tanking an entire season, lying on injury reports, lying and embarrassing the entire league when caught in the lie, etc…

  39. marty2020 says: Jan 14, 2016 9:50 AM

    The games in the 70s between the Steelers and the Raiders are part of NFL lore, not because of the significance of the games, or the excellence of the play, but because of the sheer violence. I understand why the NFL cannot condone that level of violence, but still, I miss it.

  40. sixlombardisinyourface says: Jan 14, 2016 9:52 AM

    The two penalties at the end of the game did not give Pittsburgh the win – kicking the FG did that. The penalties merely gave them a closer (perceived as “easier” ,”given” or “guaranteed”) FG attempt. ATTEMPT is the key, as the FG unit still had to, in the pouring rain, snap the ball then kick the ball through the uprights to get the 3 points. In a game like this one, anything could have happened, bad snap, blocked kick, missed kick,…etc.

    Steelers had the ball on the CIN 47 before the penalties. With only Burficts 15 yd penalty (excluding the Jones penalty) moves PIT to the CIN 32 with 14 seconds on the clock. Pittsburgh could have still ran one more play, gained a few yards then attempted a 45-47 yd FG which is in Boswell’s range and likely made the FG as well.

    While the two penalties project an “easier”or “given” FG attempt, they did not and do not give or guarantee the 3 points.
    (*see Minnesota FG attempt vs Seattle playoff game the day after this game)

    The fumble by Hill set it all in motion. Steelers defense made the play.

  41. bonniebengal says: Jan 14, 2016 9:53 AM

    The crowd became enraged when Shazier, after his ILLEGAL hit on Bernard, began to dance on our logo.

  42. cincy85 says: Jan 14, 2016 10:00 AM

    Irs all rugged, im done with the nfl

  43. malevolentmuse says: Jan 14, 2016 10:00 AM

    Romophobic, how dare anyone try to rob you of your bloodlust!

    Toughness has nothing to do with it. The NFL just lost a huge lawsuit. There will be more if it doesn’t evolve and it will disappear. If you love football that much you should be happy about it. The NFL will disappear otherwise. Times, people, and opinions have changed. Deal with it.

  44. steelpenguin6687 says: Jan 14, 2016 10:04 AM

    Oh, and I wonder if it included the fans throwing debris at and injured player as they were carted from the field.

    Sorry, but if you believe the games are rigged, the NFL hates the your team etc, and you continue to watch the games…You are not “touched by an angel”, you’re just a little touched.

  45. oldschoolomen says: Jan 14, 2016 10:05 AM

    The NFL assigned the same referee crew to the playoff game that officiated the week 14 match up. It’s really not a surprise that the WC game got out of control.

  46. jag1959 says: Jan 14, 2016 10:06 AM

    kissmytaintpatriotswinagain says:
    Jan 14, 2016 9:31 AM
    Shazier’s was legal, once the recover establishes control and becomes a runner the are no longer considered defenses. It does not matter that Shaker lead with his helmet.
    ___________________

    NFC guy, no dog in the fight. The argument isn’t about a hit on a defenseless player. It met all three of the criteria for using the crown of the helmet laid out in the NFL’s own video on the subject:

    “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.”

  47. nhpats says: Jan 14, 2016 10:08 AM

    Instead of whining and complaining Cinci fans should be hoping their team’s management goes out and finds a new QB who can win in the postseason.

  48. peytonwantsaflag says: Jan 14, 2016 10:10 AM

    it’s Thursday, where are all the fines? Burfict was suspended because he cost the Stealers the playoffs, I get that, but is everything else just going to be swept under the rug now?

  49. flaccodelic says: Jan 14, 2016 10:12 AM

    I would love to hear how Steeler fans would react if a coach on an opposing team pulled the hair of one of their players, or came onto the field to antagonize their players.
    Seriously. What would the reaction be?

    Steelers fans have always had major blind spots regarding the whole “character” issue. They love to throw stones at other teams, but look the other way when their QB clearly paid off some people to make some things go away. Hey, they love that paragon of virtue Joey Porter so much, they hired him to teach their players how to act! Remember that time Joey Porter missed all those games because HE GOT SHOT?

    No? No one in Pittsburgh remembers these things. But championships from the 1970s? Suddenly the memory clears right up.

  50. Kaz says: Jan 14, 2016 10:12 AM

    The refs handed the Steelers that game (glad this site admitted that was no TD the refs gave them). The world witnessed the ref’s bias and coaching tactics. The league did nothing (but suspend Burfict). Much like the Superbowls of years past, the Steelers can’t do anything without the help of coaches, refs and the league.

    No question the league loved it.

  51. listenupcupcake says: Jan 14, 2016 10:15 AM

    Integrity? Fairness? Concern? Try MONEY!

    The core “value” of the NFL is that anything goes, if that produces $$$. You can Roger that.

  52. Cavs2016NBAWorldChampions says: Jan 14, 2016 10:18 AM

    Loved the game and the hitting. Couldnt stand as usual the refs penalizing the Bengals for the same things they werent penalizing the Steelers for.

    The biggest joke was the Bengals DB blasting the Steelers WR right in the shoulder pads. He wasnt a defenseless receiver he took 2-3 steps.

    This isnt just a 1 time occurrence in Steeler games. This has been happening for 40 yrs. I dont know what Rooney has on the NFL but it must be alot. Theres no excuse and it isnt coincidence that the Steelers get away with murder when it comes to the refs

    No im not a Bengals fan.

  53. tomthebombtracy says: Jan 14, 2016 10:20 AM

    Reap what you sow!
    Who made this the only prime time game of the weekend? The NFL

    Who promoted all week in its shows the grudge match and that bad things were possible ? The NFL Network and all the other sports outlets

    They got what they wanted.

  54. reger91 says: Jan 14, 2016 10:22 AM

    WHF do you mean Bryant’s touchdown wasn’t valid? You don’t know jack!

  55. reger91 says: Jan 14, 2016 10:29 AM

    The Steelers are going t0 Denver, while the Bengals are still yapping about a game they lost, you clowns will never be winners.

    Stay classy!

  56. nhpats says: Jan 14, 2016 10:31 AM

    Cavs2016NBAWorldChampions says:
    Jan 14, 2016 10:18 AM
    Loved the game and the hitting. Couldnt stand as usual the refs penalizing the Bengals for the same things they werent penalizing the Steelers for.

    The biggest joke was the Bengals DB blasting the Steelers WR right in the shoulder pads. He wasnt a defenseless receiver he took 2-3 steps.

    This isnt just a 1 time occurrence in Steeler games. This has been happening for 40 yrs. I dont know what Rooney has on the NFL but it must be alot. Theres no excuse and it isnt coincidence that the Steelers get away with murder when it comes to the refs

    No im not a Bengals fan.

    ————————–

    Brown did not take 2-3 steps. He went up for the ball (that went far over his head) and was coming down to the ground. Burfict had plenty of time to lay off on the hit as it was an incomplete pass in any case. But he didn’t. He wanted to “lay out” Brown and he cost his team the game. But hey, he got to prove what a “tough guy” he was so all is well……right?

  57. gmarsteller says: Jan 14, 2016 10:31 AM

    “jefbob says:
    Jan 14, 2016 9:08 AM
    Two things about this article.

    Shazier’s hit was not legal. He clearly led with the crown of his helmet.
    Bryant never has posession with 2 feet down.”

    Shazier’s hit was borderline, but you rarely see it get called when a tackler hits a runner. As we all know, RBs are not “protected species” in the NFL. In fact, as soon as he bacame a runner, helmet to helmet hits are expected.

    As for Bryant’s catch, he maintained possession throughout the catch to include to the ground out of bounds. There was not enough on replay to overturn it.

    Btw, Burfict drove his knee into Ben’s shoulder and should have been called with a 15 yard penalty to keep the drive alive. Perhaps none of the buffoonery by Burfict and PacMan would have played out since the game may have been decided before the last two minutes.

  58. steelpenguin6687 says: Jan 14, 2016 10:35 AM

    HA HA HA !!! That’s a good one…a Ravens’ fan on here talking about “the whole character issue” thing.

    **The grocery stores in the Cincinnati area must be scrambling to bring in enough cheese to go with all the Whine…

  59. romophobic says: Jan 14, 2016 10:36 AM

    malevolentmuse says:
    Jan 14, 2016 10:00 AM

    Romophobic, how dare anyone try to rob you of your bloodlust!

    Toughness has nothing to do with it. The NFL just lost a huge lawsuit. There will be more if it doesn’t evolve and it will disappear. If you love football that much you should be happy about it. The NFL will disappear otherwise. Times, people, and opinions have changed. Deal with it.

    Football isn’t going anywhere, Nancy. Unless of course they keep taking all of the hits out of it like people like you and Florio suggest. They lost the lawsuit, this is true. They lost it because they supposedly downplayed the seriousness of concussions which any grown man should’ve been aware of to begin with.

  60. headin4seven says: Jan 14, 2016 10:37 AM

    The Steelers organization would never sign creeps like Burfict and Jones, but they have no choice in which teams they are scheduled to play. To survive in the AFC North, they have to play more physical than the average NFL team.

  61. bengalskuta82 says: Jan 14, 2016 10:43 AM

    Yup. Florio is on point.
    Shame on you, NFL

  62. vottorific says: Jan 14, 2016 10:46 AM

    What we all saw in the 4th quarter was pitsburg get thier lunch handed to them by Cincy. Cincy will sweep them next year. The bullies got handled.

  63. granadafan says: Jan 14, 2016 10:47 AM

    They say any publicity is good publicity, especially in the entertainment industry. For the NFL that rings true, even during the ugly days of Ray Rice, Hernandez, and Peterson. The news was talking about the NFL. Sure, the sponsors threatened to walk for publicity purposes, but none did.

  64. bengalskuta82 says: Jan 14, 2016 10:48 AM

    If the NFL doesn’t condone these players actions, why play over and over on their Network?
    I can bet my house that they will put both Steelers Bengals on Primetime next season. I feel bad for both teams in a way because the NFL is such an hypocrite

  65. vadertime says: Jan 14, 2016 10:53 AM

    So, I got to watch the whole KC shutout/blowout of the Texans. Yay for KC. I went to bed shortly after halftime while Pittsburg still had the lead. I woke up around 11:45 to find that Cincinnati had taken a 1 point lead over Pitt. Then I watched the disaster unfold with Burfict and Pacman’s, back to back, unsportsmanlike contact. These two idiots and out-of-control egos gave Pitt 30 yards for an easy field goal, which won the game. Cinncinnati vis-a-vis their massively undisciplined, defensive players gave Pitt the win. Pittsburg didn’t deserve it or earn it – they were given a win on a silver platter by these two idiots. Thank you and good night.

  66. burgfor7 says: Jan 14, 2016 10:59 AM

    flaccodelic says:
    Jan 14, 2016 10:12 AM
    I would love to hear how Steeler fans would react if a coach on an opposing team pulled the hair of one of their players, or came onto the field to antagonize their players.
    Seriously. What would the reaction be?

    Steelers fans have always had major blind spots regarding the whole “character” issue. They love to throw stones at other teams, but look the other way when their QB clearly paid off some people to make some things go away. Hey, they love that paragon of virtue Joey Porter so much, they hired him to teach their players how to act! Remember that time Joey Porter missed all those games because HE GOT SHOT?

    No? No one in Pittsburgh remembers these things. But championships from the 1970s? Suddenly the memory clears right up.

    Troy Polamalu was tackled by his hair by Chiefs Larry Johnson on October 16, 2006…Steelers still won.

    Joey Porter missed two games after being shot in the butt. On Aug 30, 2003 he flew to Denver to watch Colorado State, his alma mater, play Colorado. He went to a bar after the game with some friends. He was in the parking lot along with about 150 other people. Even the Denver police said he was an innocent bystander.

  67. dreemeagle says: Jan 14, 2016 11:02 AM

    which is PRECISELY why i am no longer a fan of the NFL;

    that was not football and i played in the 1960s and am from Pittsburgh;

    there is no way to look young Pop Warner players in the eye and tell them that is not the way the game is played if you want to make it to the NFL;

    we all know the league was first formed by a bunch of gangsters looking for a winter weekend pastime that didn’t interfere with horse racing, but the game today has descended into boxing-level chaos and cheating…and now almost criminal wild animal behaviour on the field by players and coaches alike;

    why even bother with rules and whistles and referees?

    just let the two teams run out to midfield from either end of the stadia, throw a ball down in the middle and come back in three hours to see who still holds it?

    who in their right mind would want their kid playing football today, if this sort of play is the highest level they can hope to achieve?

  68. rankster1950 says: Jan 14, 2016 11:02 AM

    Pacman be gone next year. Burfict will.be in jail somewhere

  69. Cavs2016NBAWorldChampions says: Jan 14, 2016 11:12 AM

    Nhpats:

    Before you run your mouth maybe you should figure out which play i was referring to. I wasnt referring to the Brown play was referring to i dont remember if it was Wheaton or Bryant.

  70. sixlombardisinyourface says: Jan 14, 2016 11:25 AM

    Someone should send Burfict an enlarged (30 x 40 should work nicely) photo still of himself on his back after David DeCastro pancaked his azz into the turf.
    A monstrously illuminating illustration, DeCastro’s one Burfict moment.

  71. Spazz says: Jan 14, 2016 11:31 AM

    bonniebengal says:
    Jan 14, 2016 9:53 AM
    “The crowd became enraged when Shazier, after his ILLEGAL hit on Bernard, began to dance on our logo.”

    He “heard a snap and was horrified,” and that’s why he ran away so fast after making the tackle.

    Sound familiar? That was Burfict’s excuse when he celebrated Bell’s injury back in October.

  72. thefavorite77 says: Jan 14, 2016 11:46 AM

    Tomlin’s move while stupid was not a trip.

    Munchak didn’t intend to pull that loser’s hair; he grabbed him and accidentally got some locks; stop being so dramatic. While it should have been a flag I’m glad he was watching out for his player.

    MB catch looked good… hell the NFL doesn’t even knows what I catch is anymore. I was worried that when he spiked the ball they would use that to rule it was incomplete.

    Shazier hit was with the crown of his helmet and should have been flagged but then again they need to make up their minds and be consistent when making calls

    The Refs are the biggest embarrassment in the league!

    The Steelers stepped up with great defensive play and a great running game. The Bengal found yet another way to choke it off… per usual!

  73. steelverine says: Jan 14, 2016 12:00 PM

    I’m a football fan in general and a Steelers fan specifically. I have been a fan for 40 years, obviously I’m happy my guys won the game. For the most part, it was a good, hard fought, competitive game. The 4th quarter, however, stands as one of the most bizarre series of events I have ever witnessed in sports. My thoughts on the game:

    If Mike Munchak pulled Regie Nelsons hair (have heard conflicting stories) he needs to fined/suspended/fired – no place for that in sports.

    As cool as Martivis Bryant’s catch was to watch, part of me wonders if it was really a catch, not sure he had control. Maybe, maybe not. Glad I did not have to make the call.

    Shaziers hit on Bernard – this one is tough. Until just a few years ago this hit would have been talked about as an awesome hit. Fast moving, powerful take-down. I did not see any malice or intent to injure, I saw a defender make a fast moving, devastating hit on a ball carrier. HOWEVER, under the new and improved NFL’s policies/rules, this could have been called for roughness/helmet hit. Again, glad I did not have to make the call.

    Burfict’s hit on Brown – completely different than above. He took aim at brown, squared up, braced himself, and delivered a perfectly aimed hit to Browns head. This is the type of hit that can/will kill a player one day. After seeing a sampling of Burficts history I believe he should be kicked out of the NFL. He is a dirty player who wants to injure people.

    Porter on the field – This is a non issue for me. It is very common to see multiple coaches on the field during an injury or altercation. This game alone had times when nearly the entire Bengals staff was on the field.

    Pac Man Jones – This guy is just an idiot with a big mouth and a self control issue.

    While I am happy my guys won the game, I am sorry the Bengals had to lose it due the careless, selfish actions of two complete morons.

    Better luck next year.

  74. joetoronto says: Jan 14, 2016 12:04 PM

    That was an awesome hit by Shazier, it was a game changer.

    Meanwhile, Raggedy Andy was wondering “But what about the kids?”

  75. bengalsfreedom says: Jan 14, 2016 12:05 PM

    Tomlin apologizing is priceless. He also said in port-game quotes something to the effect of “hats off to both teams and them (Bengals), I think we showed what the AFC North was about tonight”.

    On a side note, no one is surprised by this from the league. They didn’t deal with a murder threat from one of the Steelers players which instigated ALL of the actions and consequences that followed.

  76. raideralex99 says: Jan 14, 2016 12:23 PM

    The reason why they did not show the Bryant TD was because it was not a TD.
    Yes he got two feet down but did not have control of the ball … He got only one foot down when he got control of the football.

  77. Moudabo says: Jan 14, 2016 12:30 PM

    oldschoolomen says:
    Jan 14, 2016 10:05 AM

    The NFL assigned the same referee crew to the playoff game that
    officiated the week 14 match up. It’s really not a surprise that
    the WC game got out of control.

    ———
    Patently UNTRUE. Officiating crews were shuffled and combined to ensure
    that the HIGHEST- graded officials at EACH position from it’s 17 crews,
    got to work the playoffs. The referee John Parry, one of the highest-graded
    referees, worked both games but did not have his regular crew.

    Penalties: Steelers: 10 for 142 yds vs Bengals: 8 for 79 yds

    They missed calls on BOTH sides. The NFL used an all-star crew to officiate
    this, and the other postseason games. Officiating football is never perfect
    and they had their hands full in this game. Ultimately, it was the behavior of
    the players that determined the outcome, not the officials. Nice try though.
    Plz return to school, and this time do your homework
    before spouting out false, and misleading information.

  78. Steeley McBeam says: Jan 14, 2016 12:32 PM

    Do people saying the refs favored the Steelers realize that the Steelers nearly doubled the Bengals penalty yards — 142 to 79?

    Just because your players made bone headed plays in the final seconds doesn’t mean the refs called an unfair game. In fact, the Bengals were helped, not hurt, by the refs, just by themselves.

  79. dnmaster0765 says: Jan 14, 2016 12:39 PM

    In response to enoughofthat: the problem with Martavis Bryant’s catch was that he didn’t get control of the ball until he was well out of bounds. It was crazy athletic and acrobatic, but not a legitimate catch.

    The game was ugly on both sides and the officiating inconsistent which ultimately decided the outcome of the game. I’m not sure instant replay does us any good because penalties are applied arbitrarily. The hit which knocked Bernard out of the game was much more aggregeous than Burficts. The Bernard hit was clearly helmet to helmet and not called.

    Maybe Pittsburg still wins the game without Adam Jones’s penalty, but Joey Porter being on the field should have offset the Jones infraction of bumping a ref. But, no penalty was assessed on Porter. This group of refs deserve a suspension more than Burfict. It’s a shame we’ll never know who was the better team on Saturday night.

  80. t8ertot says: Jan 14, 2016 12:56 PM

    I think the NFL is rubbing it’s palms together because their golden child Steelers continue in the playoffs

  81. ajgreenhof says: Jan 14, 2016 1:24 PM

    Shazier’s hit wasn’t legal and his dancing was just atrocious.

  82. excusemewhileiwhipthisoutagain says: Jan 14, 2016 1:38 PM

    Shaziers hit is legal if you dont think he “lined up” Bernard. In the opinion of the refs, the NFL, people who dont live in Cleveland, Cinncy or Baltimore and people who dont hate the Steelers, he didnt line Shazier up.

  83. Deb says: Jan 14, 2016 2:55 PM

    Any PFT reader who thinks you’re biased toward the Steelers is nuts. And I’ve been reading you for years.

    Bryant’s catch was a catch and a TD, you lil pot-stirrer you.

    Shazier’s hit was legal only because Bernard had become a runner at that point. But those hits shouldn’t be legal. If you can’t spear a QB or a defenseless WR, you shouldn’t be able to spear a runner. Runners aren’t magically protected from concussions. And how, exactly, does Burfict wanting a wresting match lead to Brown faking an injury. The video of Burfict’s hit on Brown speaks for itself.

    Tomlin’s a decent guy. I’m sure he was sorry for Marv that his idiot players rang up 30 yards in penalties on a final drive. But Marv keeps hiring these guys. He’s his own worst enemy.

    Yes, I’m sure Goodell is reveling. He’s the NFL’s Mr. Burns.

  84. John Harbaugh Is A Whiney Middle Aged Woman says: Jan 14, 2016 3:01 PM

    Even though the Ref’s ROBBED the Steelers of a touchdown that Shazier would have gotten had they not blown the play dead after he recovered the fumble, the Steelers still managed to outclass and outplay the Bengals. See you in another 25 years, suckers!

  85. Deb says: Jan 14, 2016 3:20 PM

    @dnmaster0765 …

    The problem with your assessment of the officiating is you’re not taking into account the rules.

    Burfict’s hit on Brown was flagged because a) Brown was a defenseless receiver, and b) Brown didn’t have the ball and Burfict knew he didn’t have the ball. Shazier’s hit on Bernard wasn’t flagged because Bernard had turned and taken a couple of steps, making him a runner. It’s not illegal to spear a runner (although I believe it should be).

    Porter wasn’t flagged because he’d come onto the field to check on Brown–just as multiple Bengal’s assistants had come onto the field to check on Bernard. While technically illegal, the officials never flag assistant coaches who flock to an injured player. There’s no footage of Porter doing anything to provoke the Bengals players. He was walking off the field when one Bengal hit him in the back and Pacman Jones ran over an official trying to get to Porter. Jones was flagged for contact with the official, not for anything he did or said to Porter.

  86. oldschoolomen says: Jan 14, 2016 4:04 PM

    It is illegal to spear a runner. It’s illegal to spear anyone:

    Article 6: Unnecessary Roughness. There shall be no unnecessary roughness. This shall include, but will not be limited to:
    (i) using any part of a player’s helmet (including the top/crown and forehead/”hairline” parts) or facemask to butt, spear, or ram an opponent violently or unnecessarily;

  87. 1newprodigy says: Jan 14, 2016 4:26 PM

    The biggest surprise had to be Munchek getting flagged for pulling Nelson’s hair. It was the first (and last) time a Steeler coach wasn’t aloud to get away with whatever they wanted.

  88. Deb says: Jan 14, 2016 4:49 PM

    oldschoolomen, I’m referring to the provisions in Article 7 regarding when a receiver ceases to be considered defenseless. My mistake for using the term spearing–which means using the crown of the helmet. The correct term would be launching.

  89. ampatsisahypocrite says: Jan 14, 2016 5:33 PM

    TODAY’S RULES LESSON FOR KNOWLEDGE-LACKING BENGALS FANS AND OTHER ASSORTED HATERS

    1. enoughofthatalready says:
    Jan 14, 2016 9:00 AM
    The NFL Films highlight package played on NFL Network contained not a single image of the uncanny (and, frankly, not valid) touchdown catch from Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant, who caught the ball behind his leg, got two feet down, and flipped forward out of the end zone
    ——————————————–

    Bryant pins the ball to the back of his leg and maintains possession at all times — the ball never wavers or is juggled — the play was thoroughly reviewed and the call correctly upheld. It’s not that Bryant’s catch was illegit, it’s simply that Cincy fans and the other haters can’t appreciate greatness.

    2. Bernard is a ball carrier making a football move when Shazier hits him, and therefore the helmet rules do not apply. Moreover, he has full possession of the football. Meanwhile Antonio Brown is not a ball carrier, does not have possession of the football and is in a defenseless position. Therefore both the non-call on Shazier and the call on Burfict are correct.

    Oh the officials got this one wrong — Shazier should’ve been awarded a touchdown as he was never touched after recovering the ball. It’s either a fumble or it’s not. It was declared so. In fact it was the STEELERS who were ripped off here and should’ve had an additional 6 points.

    You’re welcome.

  90. TebowedOutOfThePostSeasonsAndNeverToReturn says: Jan 14, 2016 8:54 PM

    Can anyone cite a single time previously in the history of the NFL where a coach was penalized for being on the field during a timeout? Ever? If not, then just go away with the “Porter should have been penalized.” It happens many times EVERY SINGLE GAME. Only a football newbie would not realize that.

  91. heinz57pgh says: Jan 14, 2016 10:06 PM

    I am really tired about the crap related to the Munchek, Nelson fiasco. No one has any idea what Nelson said to Munchek when Nelson pushed him. No doubt Munchek lost his cool. He was flagged for it, it is over. But please don’t pretend that Nelson is a choir boy. Remember he is a member of that band of malcontents. Lets not confuse Reggie Nelson with Muncheks character.

  92. pinwilly6 says: Jan 14, 2016 10:43 PM

    Shazier’s was legal, once the recover establishes control and becomes a runner the are no longer considered defenses. It does not matter that Shaker lead with his helmet.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++
    The play earlier when the steelers receiver took 4 steps it was called the bernard hit should of been called

  93. natijim235 says: Jan 14, 2016 10:55 PM

    @bonniebengal – you’re right no one talking about shazier chest bumping on the 50 yd line while benard laying unconsious. remember all we heard about from steelers a few weeks ago how burfict celebrating his hit on bell??? and that was w/o doubt a clean hit! hard but clean for all you people who never played the game!

  94. johnc44 says: Jan 14, 2016 11:35 PM

    enoughofthatalready says:
    Jan 14, 2016 9:00 AM

    If he caught the ball and got two feet down before flipping out of the end zone, how is it not valid? Here we go crybabies in 3….2….1
    —————————————————————
    First of all remember that was from Steelers fan Florio even.Second it wasn`t a TD because when the first foot was down the ball the ball was pinned against his upper thigh but by the time the 2nd came down the 1st was up and the ball has moved down to his knee thus it wasn`t controlled in the since that they require for catches with hands.

  95. johnc44 says: Jan 14, 2016 11:45 PM

    And for everyone who keeps saying that the Shazier hit was legal because Phil Simms said so on air can simply look the CBA up themselves at section 12-2-8 under 15 yard penalties for “Initiating contact with the crown of the helmet 12-2-8” which is what Shazier did.That is different than the defenseless receiver and it even applies to running plays outside the tackle box.
    If you don`t think that contact was initiated with the crown of Shaziers helmet then i can`t help you but the rule is clearly written and was clearly blown.

  96. johnc44 says: Jan 14, 2016 11:51 PM

    And if you think it`s legal ask yourself why? I would rather be hit in the head with a shoulder than a helmet.If Burficts hit was so bad he should be out of league because of player safety concerns then why no concern for Bernard`s health and safety on that play.
    You don`t think it hurt as much or risk serious as much? I would much rather take the hit Brown took than the one Bernard.

  97. esimonds26 says: Jan 15, 2016 11:10 PM

    I don’t even get why the call the Steelers – Bengals a rivalry. Pitt overall is 58-35 against them. The Steelers are 30-16 at home, 28-19 in Cincy and 2-0 in the playoffs. Even since Dalton arrived, he’s only 3-7 against them. Doesn’t look like much of a rivalry to me.

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