JuJu Smith-Schuster’s illegal hit knocks out Vontaze Burfict


The NFL’s next suspension could come as soon as Tuesday.

Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster took out Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict with an illegal hit and then stood over him in celebration. Officials flagged Smith-Schuster for unnecessary roughness, which was automatically declined, and taunting, which cost the Steelers 15 yards.

ESPN analyst Jon Gruden questioned why officials didn’t eject Smith-Schuster.

Brufict was carted off with a head injury, pointing his right index finger skyward as Bengals fans chanted his name. Before he reached the locker room, though, Burfict jumped off the cart and walked the rest of the way, Joe Danneman of FOX19 in Cincinnati reported.

The team ruled out Burfict.

The hard-hitting game has featured more than its share of penalties between two teams that dislike each other. The Bengals have set a team record with 173 yards on 13 penalties, while the Steelers have seven penalties for 66 yards.

The game might challenge the Raiders-Broncos game from two weeks ago for the amount of money paid in fines. Five players lost $1,045,681 from illegal actions in that game.

FOX analyst Troy Aikman tweeted, “This game is hard to watch for a number of reasons. Terrible for the NFL and the game of football overall.”

92 responses to “JuJu Smith-Schuster’s illegal hit knocks out Vontaze Burfict

  1. Blindside head-shot and then the idiot stands over him and taunts.

    If that isn’t a suspension then Goodell and the owners should stop pretending to care about player safety.

  2. Hey, only one game for Gronk… JuJu’s like, “hey, I can appeal a one game suspension down to nothing too!”

  3. Burfict played a great, clean game. Prayers with Shazier. Amazingly bad calls on a PI and hold against the bengals. Questionable call on Bryant’s run back, but it was a hold, just didn’t affect the play. Bad job by geno hitting ben late (great job by Ben to go down like a rag doll). Bengals did what Marvin Lewis teams do, disappeared at halftime.

  4. Come on Sqeeler fans…. tell me how classy your team is after what JJ Smith just did…. justify that one…

  5. Roger isn’t going to do anything to his precious Steelers. Bengals get half of their concussions in 2 games every year. No suspension yet, why would there be one now?

    National Fraud League

  6. Refs cost the Bengals the W with the silly holding flag on the Green TD. Juju sealed it by taking away the heart of the Bengals defense. That’s Steelers football, folks, and as a Bengals fan, I’m a bit tired of it.

  7. This had the makings of a good football game, but the officiating was pretty terrible and the game devolved into something less than football. I agree with Aikman.

  8. JuJu didn’t forearm a guy already on the ground, so no, not as bad as Gronk. Still pretty bad though and he’ll be hearing from the league office for sure. A brutal brutal game on both sides. That Pittsburgh come back was entertaining though!

    Go Steelers!

  9. What a despicable organization the steelers are! Everytime they are losing they turn the game into something else. Its the same story every game first the refs bail them out. Then if that doesnt work then they turn the game into something else. If pitt is so good why cant they ever just beat the bengals without all the weird stuff? From the coaches pulling players hair to tripping them. Why cant we just have a football game? I dont want to hear about burfict because pitt started every problem and every situation thats ever occurred between these teams

  10. @ abrasion

    I’ll be the first to bash Goodell, but at some point the players need to start worrying about player safety. There were multiple hits tonight that were reprehensible.

  11. (despite terrible officiating, the bengals made too many mistakes and seemed to miss burfict late in the game)

  12. How many players did Burfict deliberately knock out for the season before he was suspended?? And now a wideout–a wideout–who’s also the youngest player in the league, should be suspended for his first infraction? Right. JuJu acted like a jerk in taunting, and he should have drawn the flag, but the play itself was nothing to Burfict’s usual MO. So spare me the indignation.

  13. Cheap shot. should have been tossed. Don’t know how the refs let that go…incompetent. Then brainless Ju Ju hovers over him all proud of his work. Don’t even like Burfict but that kind of dirty play and taunting is ridiculous.

  14. Rookie learned the cheap shot Steeler way quick. I’m surprised they didn’t blame it on the Bengals and throw a flag on them. Once again, you have to beat the Steelers and the Refs.

  15. Well, Hines Ward used to get away with those all the time, so I can understand how he might have thought that it was OK for Steelers receivers.

  16. Burfict took Brown out with a cheap shot to the head so anybody that doesn’t think this was payback doesn’t understand the game…..these guys have very long memories

  17. “Ironic turn of events for the Steelers fans that jumped on their soap box about Gronk. And now your boy JuJu with a cheap shot every bit as bad as Gronk, if not worse because he stood over him after. What say you now?”
    I’m a Steeler fan, and I feel the suspension is completely warranted. No room for that in the game, even if it’s Burfict.

  18. With all the cheap shots, dirty plays, fines and suspensions that Burfict has racked up over his career, it’s hard for me to feel sorry for him. What goes around, comes around.

  19. The Hines Ward rule says direct hit to the head/neck area. This looked like a legit shot to the chest from me. Shoulder to chest. Not illegal and shouldn’t be suspended.

    How’s this even brought up along with the Gronk situation. Gronk may as well of pounded him in the parking lot. What he did had nothing to do with football.

  20. The hit was not as bad as Gronk’s on any level – Burfict didn’t see him but was running right at him. Standing over him was ridiculous and I would not be surprised if that brought about a suspension.

  21. Ironic turn of events for the Steelers fans that jumped on their soap box about Gronk.
    And for the Steelers fans who get on their soap boxes about Burfict. You don’t get to say a guy doesn’t belong in the league and then look the other way when you’re own team is every bit as dirty

  22. Juju should likely just sit out the next few pitt/cincy games becuase Burfict is going to look to take his head off.

  23. Hit was not dirty at all.

    This was not a blindside. JuJu was in front of him and lead with his shoulder to the chest. His helmet did make contact with Burfict’s facemask but that was not the primary contact point.

    The taunting was stupid.

  24. It’s a no win situation for the league. Guys in their 40’s like me who grew up watching players like Rod Woodson, Rodney Harrison, Steve Atwater, Bill Romanowski & Brian Dawkins absolutely kill people and loved every minute of it, are a large part of the NFL’s viewing audience. With such a big emphasis put on player safety now, it has created a watered down product. What is considered “roughing the passer” now is a joke. Grazing a QB’s helmet with your hand should not be roughing the passer. Taking a QB to the ground hard should not be a penalty. There was a play earlier this year where Melvin Ingram came in like a freight train unblocked and hit a QB square in the mid-section. Completely clean and legal, but it was violent & the ref threw a flag. Completely ridiculous. Taking the violence out of football is only going to lead to continued ratings drops.

  25. He should have counted him out 1-2-3 like Greg Lloyd did to Al Toon back in 1989.
    Also, Fire Todd Haley

  26. Definitely a hard hit. Looked like Schuster led with
    a shoulder to the sternum of Burfict. Nothing dirty
    about that.

    Standing over him afterwards – now that was a dumbazz move.
    Should get a nice fine for taunting.

  27. Definitely an illegal hit these days. This used to be a “good block.” Anyway, can’t feel bad for the recipient on this one. He takes every chance he can to make dirty plays, mostly after the whistle. As a Bills fan, I can’t even compare this one to Gronk. Anyway, keep your head on a swivel when you’re on the field. Nice hit rook.

  28. Classic Steelers cheap shot football. Yet nothing happened really in the game and nothing will after. Burfict got face-masked and pushed to the ground earlier in the ga,e after the whistle, with 2 Refs right next to it and they didn’t even throw a flag. Its BS … but its nothing i didn’t already know about.

  29. Football used to be played this way. In the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, this type of play was the norm. I think Ronnie Lott cut off one of his fingers at halftime so that he could play without his bent up finger getting in the way. (I think it was a super bowl game)

    The NFL in general is trying to draw a fine line of “safe” football. It’s like having a boxing match but then saying don’t hit each other too hard, when the goal of boxing is to knockout the opponent.

    Clearly the taunting stuff isn’t sportsmanlike. But the game is about tackling the opponent.

  30. For those saying this was worse than Gronk…no it wasn’t. At least everything Juju did was during and within the field of play, not some cowardly forearm shiver to the back of a guys head while he’s on the ground. They both deserve punishment

  31. Where are all the self righteous Steeler fans now? Didn’t think this would come back to bite you so soon after getting all up in Gronk’s business. Classic Steeler football and fans.

  32. After watching this online, much much worse than the Gronk foul. JuJu knew exactly who he was lining up and intentionally went for the head. There was no uncalled holding for which to retaliate. This was headhunting pure and simple. Minimum 2 games. Should be draft picks removed and a heavy fine. Hey, just following your script Steeler fans.

  33. There is just as little consistency in the NFL fans as their is in the league office.

    People wanted Gronk burned at the stake, and celebrate Juju.

    Guess which hit makes parents say there is no way their kid is playing tackle football? I agree with Troy Aikman, games like that are terribly bad for the game, because it brings out the most violent aspect of it. Because of that, Juju has to get a suspension.

  34. fluiddarkness says:
    December 4, 2017 at 11:58 pm
    Hey, only one game for Gronk… JuJu’s like, “hey, I can appeal a one game suspension down to nothing too!”
    Gronk deserves his game off, lost game checks, and risk to a 5.5 million performance bonus. Deserves it all day. I get the appeal, thats an automatic NFLPA thing. But I expect the denial to be equally automatic.

    The factors surrounding Schuster’s incident are not quite the same (during the play not after, but then the celebration after) but really they add up to a game off too.

    The hit on Brown late in the game warrants review as well. It might not have been a headhunting play the way that happened so fast, but still its fine worthy at the least.

  35. OldTime Football says:
    December 5, 2017 at 12:00 am
    …and everyone in the league cheered the hit! Only a couple years ago it would have been, “He got Jacked Up”



    Other than the helmet shot- it’s just a football play.

  36. Is there anyone out there but bad hair Gruden surprised this happened to Burfict?? While I don’t agree any player should have his head targeted, no one but the most ardent Bengal fan would not have expected retribution to #55. I mean, this guy has been fined 8 or 9 times in his career.

  37. It’s a shame Smith-Shuster will probably get a one-game suspension, because his block was not in the same universe with Gronk’s dirty play.

    JJSS threw a block that was critical to the play currently unfolding. He dropped his shoulder as he went in for the block. If VB was “blindsided,” JJSS was barely outside his field of vision.

    The subsequent taunting was unacceptable and merited a 15 yard penalty, but it was a childish move by a rookie who was excited to have pancaked one of the NFL’s premier linebackers.

    I’d say Gronk’s shenanigans deserve a much more severe penalty relative to anything JJSS did, but, hey, anything goes in Goodellandia.

  38. Couldnt enjoy the game. The refs. Also, as much as I hate the Steelers and Shazier, I felt really bad for Shazier seeing him carted off. Same for Burfict. I know it’s a brutal sport but last nights game they were killing each other.

  39. Didn’t watch the game, only the highlight- but it seemed like a legal hit to me. He was blocking for the runner. He blocked high, and Burfect didn’t see it coming, but that’s not JuJu’s fault. It looked to me like JuJu lead in with his shoulder. I think what bothered most people were: 1, it caught Burfect off guard (wasn’t looking). 2, JuJu taunted him afterwards. It reminds me of Golden Tate’s hit on Sean Lee. Look it up. It appeared brutal, but facts are, you can’t define illegal hits because they look bad. Sometimes players get in the zone and don’t see things coming. Better get your head on a swivel on the field, for sure.

  40. He was flagged for Taunting…NOT the hit! The hit was legal. Had he not stood over him like an a$$ there would have been no flag on the play. Please enough with the over reacting that it was a cheap shot…it wasn’t.

  41. I’m so confused. When did 2 guys running directly at each other, and one guy putting a shoulder into the other’s chest, become an “illegal blindside block to the head”?

  42. Deb says:
    December 5, 2017 at 12:06 am
    How many players did Burfict deliberately knock out for the season before he was suspended?? And now a wideout–a wideout–who’s also the youngest player in the league, should be suspended for his first infraction? Right. JuJu acted like a jerk in taunting, and he should have drawn the flag, but the play itself was nothing to Burfict’s usual MO. So spare me the indignation.
    So basically you’re not against cheap shots and dirty play, just against certain players? Got it

  43. ajigel says:

    So basically you’re not against cheap shots and dirty play, just against certain players? Got it

    No, actually, you don’t “got it.” I’m a Steelers fan and was here slamming Mike Mitchell for dirty hits a few weeks ago because he’s done the same thing in multiple instances. I’ve said nothing about Gronk, not because I approve of what he did, but because it was out of character and the intensity of the game gets to everyone occasionally. My problem is with dirty players. As others have said, JuJu’s hit was not dirty. He led with his shoulder, not his helmet. His taunting was asinine, and I did call him out for that. Burfict has a long history of deliberately trying to injure people. That’s the difference. Only Bengals fans are unable to see him for what he is.

  44. As the game commentator was asking, “Why the hell weren’t both PF’s enforced?!” One foul was during the play, and the other was a dead ball foul after the play. Should have been 30 yds and the defensive player should have been ejected.

  45. If there’s one person in the NFL that deserves to get knocked out, its Vontaze Burfict. The guy should be suspended permanently in the NFL. Stuff like this is what makes the NFL laughable.

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