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Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis defends Vontaze Burfict's hit on Le'Veon Bell

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Head coach Marvin Lewis defended his linebacker this week as Vontaze Burfict is being criticized by the same Steelers players who have celebrated the injury of Bengals players in the past.

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Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Pittsburgh was maintaining a 7-0 lead with 9:14 remaining in the second quarter when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger checked down his reliable all-purpose back Le'Veon Bell.

Vontaze Burfict, in pursuit, dragged Bell from behind, unfortunately trapping his right leg. Bell suffered a significant MCL injury and was placed on season-ending IR on Monday.

Naturally, the Steelers were upset, including offensive lineman Ramon Foster. "If you're on the field with him, you know what I mean by that," Foster said, via Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "They'll play it off; he'll act dumb about it. But you don't run across the field hyped, celebrating, jumping up and down when a guy goes down like that."

Even Steelers linebacker Vince Williams publicly threatened to assault Burfict, which was captured by the internet before being deleted. It's unknown if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, or anyone from his office, will respond to a clear threat of assault. Burfict himself has seen and acknowledged it.

Yet, the problem wasn't the tackle, rather the perceived celebration. After dragging Bell down, Burfict sprinted away after making the first down stop.

Burfict Bell Injury

Naturally, Steelers players will view this as a slight when in reality, this had nothing to do with Bell. This had everything to do with Burfict's year-long recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery, a follow-up microfracture procedure and a repeated tendency to celebrate after making a play. He ran away so quickly, as you can see here, it's unlikely he knew anything was wrong.

"I've seen Vontaze do that many a time," Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said this week. "The celebration was the fact that, 'I ran over and made the tackle.' That was his celebration. To me, that's what struck me when he did what he did: 'I just ran over and made a tackle.' I don't think anybody realized Le'Veon was hurt at the time. We don't want to see anybody get hurt on anybody's squad."

For his part, Burfict said that he "ran away" when he heard Bell's knee pop; let's face facts, he's on Pittsburgh's sideline, heard a gross injury and took off -- we’re talking about a Steelers organization with a history of season-ending injuries that redefine opposing team's' postseason direction.

"We won," Burfict said in response to Williams' threat. "He's mad they lost. I have nothing to say about it. It was a clean hit. Le'Veon is a friend of mine. I didn't intentionally mean to hurt him. It's football. He's going to come back strong."

Regardless, this is the same organization featuring players who have broken a man's jaw on a crack-back block and celebrate as they are clearly injured.

Hines Ward Keith Rivers