If you were to compile a list of Bengals players that are often mistaken for high-tech robots hell-bent on justice and domination, how can linebacker Vontaze Burfict not be at the top of that epic list?
Burfict led the NFL with 171 tackles -- the team counted 204, nearly 100 more than second-place Rey Maualuga (110). At the end of the season, Burfict led the team with eight tackles-for-loss on running plays (8), adding three quarterback sacks, an interception, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery that was returned for a touchdown (against the Cleveland Browns).
He's the first Bengals linebacker since Jim LeClair (1976) to earn a Pro Bowl nod, where he posted an interception against Andrew Luck. Additionally Burfict is only the third linebacker in franchise history, to reach a professional football all-star game, joining LeClair and Bill Bergey in the '69 AFC All-Star game.
Think you can hurt him? Not likely.
Burfict suffered an ankle sprain on the Friday heading into the game against the San Diego Chargers in early December. The team listed him as questionable but it appeared unlikely that he'd play. His pregame workout wasn't even that good, with one observer noting that Burfict was "favoring his ankle a fair amount".
Marvin Lewis asked Burfict how he felt following warmups Sunday. According to the 23-year-old linebacker, he could sense Lewis’ doubt.
"He was second-guessing himself," Burfict recounted. "I said, ‘Just trust me.’ "
Lewis did. And as has been the case since Burfict stepped foot in Cincinnati, he made his coach look like a genius.
Burfict went on to lead the team with 13 tackles, adding a pass defensed and two quarterback pressures.
"I'd buy that for a dollar".