One of the notable plays from a typically physical Steelers-Bengals game is bringing league discipline for Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
The early severe back injury to Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier cast a cloud over the rest of the game Monday night, but with 239 yards in penalties between the two teams there was plenty of physical play to go around. JuJu Smith-Schuster channeled Hines Ward with a huge block that left Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict with a head injury. A suspension seems certain, and NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo first reported the Steelers rookie wide receiver is in line for discipline from the league.
Smith-Schuster was penalized on the play, for an illegal peel-back block and then standing over Burfict to taunt him. The hit was not incredibly high on the Bengals linebacker, as in directly to the head, or viciously excessive beyond the point of contact. But it is the kind of big hit the league wants to legislate out of the game, apart from the legality of the block itself that could be debated.
Smith-Schuster added extra attention to the play by standing over an injured Burfict, who has a history of concussions as well as dangerous hits and actions that have drawn the ire of the league office.
UPDATE: Smith-Schuster’s suspension is now official.
The Steelers have a big Week 14 game coming against another division rival, with the Baltimore Ravens coming to Heinz Field for the Sunday night game. After that in Week 15 is perhaps the game Pittsburgh has marked on its schedule since the day it came out, as the New England Patriots will be coming to town with home field advantage through the AFC playoffs likely at stake.
Official word from on a suspension for Smith-Schuster should come sometime later on Tuesday. There’s a thin line between a legal and illegal hit, but Smith-Schuster straddled it just enough to be get a suspension.