Sunday’s game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers was one of the most heated games in recent memory. I mentioned in my game recap the level of hatred between the two teams seemed to approach almost Ravens-Steelers levels. Every time you turned around, there was pushing and shoving. Guys weren’t trying to tackle so much as lay a whuppin’ on their opponent.
One particular moment is coming under intense scrutiny. On his weekly radio segment, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger believes Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict tried to hurt him by diving at his knees from behind after he threw a pass. The Steelers took exception to the play when it happened with Burfict claiming he was “pushed into” the QB. After viewing the footage above, Ben now says he doesn’t buy the excuse and thinks “he definitely was diving low and going for my legs.”
Of course, there was no flag on the play.
A big culprit in Sunday’s fiasco were the referees. This was one of the worst officiating games I can recall seeing in all the years I’ve watched football. There’s been some atrocious reffing all around the league this year but this game has to rank right up there. They had no control from the jump and as the game went on they were constantly oblivious to fouls and/or utterly incapable of keeping he game under control.
In the end, the Steelers were penalized 5 times for a whopping 82 yards. Meanwhile, the Bengals had 4 penalties for only 27. Not saying the Steelers didn’t deserve many of their personal foul penalties – William Gay’s ridiculous Pick Six celebration comes to mind. What makes no sense is how the entire crew missed the Bengals committing the same offense when AJ Green straight up punted the ball into the stands following a touchdown.
Tackle Marcus Gilbert recently came out saying his Christmas wishlist is to meet the Bengals one more time in the playoffs “because they always choke.” After the hard-feelings coming from this game, I couldn’t imagine how high emotions would run in a playoff setting. The Bengals are currently in a three team race with the Broncos and Patriots for a first round bye which could slip through their fingers if back-up quarterback AJ McCarron struggles. Assuming the Steelers most likely path to the playoffs is as a Wild Card, there could be a very real possibility of a rematch.
And if that happens, neither team is going to have to search far for bulletin board material. In fact, both teams will probably need bigger boards.