If you thought seeing linebacker Ryan Shazier hauled out on a stretcher might have made the Steelers and Bengals a bit circumspect, you were mistaken.
The over-the-line hits and attitude that has come to be almost expected in this rivalry continued throughout the game, and left Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown talking about “karma.”
For starters, Shazier’s still in the hospital with a back injury suffered early in the game. After he left, things did not become more gentle.
Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster will doubtless be fined after a helmet-to-helmet block on Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, which was followed by standing over his prone opponent, taunting. The Bengals retaliated later, with safety George Iloka getting his own helmet-to-helmet shot on Antonio Brown.
Via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, as Smith-Schuster talked to reporters, Brown kept talking about “karma,” and said he’d pay any fine his young teammate incurred.
Asked if that was related to repeat offender of the league’s safety rules Burfict, Brown replied: “I ain’t talking about nobody. Karma is karma. Karma is in life. You do the wrong things, you get the wrong things out of it.”
Smith-Schuster’s regret was the taunting, since it cost them a penalty.
“I was just playing to the whistle,” he said. “I didn’t mean to stand over him. I was trying to get a big block for Le'Veon Bell for him to get upfield. The unsportsmanlike conduct is not me. I shouldn’t have done that. I hope he’s OK and I hope he gets better.”
Later in the game, Iloka hit Brown in the end zone after a touchdown, and Brown said: “The guy just left his feet and hit me in the head. Karma for him too. Karma.”