Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict may single-handedly keep the Steelers out of the Super Bowl.
Pittsburgh heads to Denver on Sunday with its star receiver, Antonio Brown, and star running back, Le’Veon Bell, both already ruled out of the game, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger listed as questionable. All three were injured by Burfict.
Burfict ended Bell’s season in November with a hit that caused a serious injury, and players on the Steelers were furious with the way Burfict got up and celebrated.
On Saturday, Burfict inflicted a concussion on Brown with an illegal hit to the head, and inflicted a shoulder injury on Roethlisberger on a sack. The hit on Brown was the last straw from the NFL’s perspective, and Burfict was suspended for the first three games of the 2016 season. The penalty Burfict drew for the hit was also incredibly costly, as it helped the Steelers move into position for their game-winning field goal.
But while the Bengals are done for this season and Burfict will be out for the start of next season, Burfict’s affect on the playoffs continues. The injuries he inflicted may be enough to knock the Steelers out of the playoffs on Sunday.