- Pittsburgh will win.
- Vontaze Burfict will do something stupid.
- Bengals fans will complain about a phantom penalty they believe cost them the game.
The Steelers Week 6 encounter with Cincinnati followed the script impeccably on Sunday, with the controversial penalty for Bengals fans coming on Pittsburgh 31-yard game winning pass to Antonio Brown with 10 seconds left to play. Inexplicably believing that Justin Hunter had run a pick play, many fans, and even certain members of the media seemed to ignore the Bengals defender initiating contact with the Steelers’ receiver on the snap of the ball.
Proving they are not always incapable of doing their job correctly, the NFL moved quickly to address the obvious no call on Sunday night when the league’s Senior Vice President of Officiating, Al Riveron, clarified any confusion for those struggling with one of the more fundamental rules that govern a play like this.
When even former New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison does not think it was a penalty, you know the Bengals have no case.
Even notorious #Steelers hater Rodney Harrison knows there was no foul on that game winning TD. #Bengals fans just need to accept yet another L. It's just not your year (again) pic.twitter.com/VUYXtfEXHG— Simon Chester (@SimonAChester) October 15, 2018
For cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and several Cincinnati fans, his holding call a few moments before that touchdown pass was another example of the referees favoring the Steelers. However, it does not take an official video from the NFL to prove that is a fallacy, regardless of what Kirkpatrick told reporters after the game.
Given #Steelers HC Mike Tomlin was fined for his comments about the referees last week by the #NFL, I assume #Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick will be fined for saying this @nflcommish? From a report by @rayfitt1 of the PPG pic.twitter.com/nfbJZAqX1n— Simon Chester (@SimonAChester) October 14, 2018
A quick review of the tape tells a very different story.
If there is a genuine complaint to be made about the officiating from Sunday, it would be that they once again let the potentially dangerous actions of Burfict go unpenalized. His intentional blow to the head of Antonio Brown during the second half was the most blatant of his fouls on the day, but his efforts earlier in the game clearly showed a pattern of behavior that would likely escalate in the way that it did if it went unchecked.
#Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict showed his intentions early against the #Steelers with a subtle little kick to the head of James Conner after his 1st TD that started a pushing match in the end zone. Classic Burfict #HereWeGo #PITvsCIN pic.twitter.com/c8r5NEtG8t— Simon Chester (@SimonAChester) October 15, 2018
Given what we have come to expect from #Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict, this was a surprisingly restrained way to down a defenseless receiver, albeit completely unnecessary #Steelers #HereWeGo #PITvsCIN pic.twitter.com/MDlhrpYCNR— Simon Chester (@SimonAChester) October 15, 2018
For a league that claims to value player safety, allowing someone with Burfict’s violent tendencies to take the field makes of mockery of any flag or fine handed out on a Sunday.