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Discipline starts fallout for cringe-worthy Steelers-Bengals Two players carted off, two others suspended, many fines to follow. One of the NFL's nastiest rivalries set new lows in prime time, forcing fans to avert their eyes.
What's to be done about this long-running animosity between the Steelers (10-2) and Bengals (5-7)? Do the teams encourage the mayhem by downplaying it? Do the NFL and the networks promote it by showing it in prime time every season? Those questions were raised in the aftermath of a game so brutal that it made viewers cringe. Pittsburgh rallied for a 23-20 victory at Paul Brown Stadium on Monday night, its sixth straight win over the Bengals. What it'll be remembered for, though, is how it felt more like a street brawl at times. The NFL responded by suspending Steelers receiver JuJu Schuster-Smith and Bengals safety George Iloka for one game each on Tuesday, and fines for other players are expected later in the week.
"I'll acknowledge there were some unfortunate things in that game that we don't need in our game - by both sides," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday.
It's been going on for years, with grudges deepening.
Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict - a focal point for much of the animosity - left the field on a cart with a concussion after Schuster-Smith leveled him with a blindside hit. The receiver then stood over the fallen linebacker to taunt him. As Schuster-Smith apologized for taunting after the game, receiver Antonio Brown yelled: "Karma! It's called karma!"
The NFL's letter to Schuster-Smith informing him of the suspension said the egregious hit and the taunting "fell far below the high standards of sportsmanship expected of an NFL player."
Iloka hit Brown in the head after his touchdown catch tied the game in the fourth quarter. Brown wasn't hurt, but the NFL suspended the Bengals safety for the type of flagrant hit that has "no place in our game."
Those moments have defined the rivalry since 2015, when Burfict made a twisting tackle on Le'Veon Bell that left the Steelers running back with a torn knee. Burfict celebrated - the Bengals say he was just happy to make a big play - but Bell and the Steelers took umbrage.
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