The rivalry between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh intensified on Tuesday, as Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger accused Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict of deliberately hitting him in the knee, according to ESPN NFL reporter Ed Werder. The league is reportedly reviewing the hit to determine whether or not discipline is warranted.
It appears that the play being referred to occurred with 2:13 remaining in the first quarter.
Burfict, blitzing the A-gap, was momentarily redirected by center Cody Wallace. After clearing his block, Burfict lowered his shoulder into the back of Roethlisberger's right knee.
There really isn't a dispute whether Burfict hit Roethlisberger in the knee. Was it deliberate? Roethlisberger seems to think so, and per Werder, one of his team sources remarked "dirty play, dirty player." Regardless of intention, players are not allowed to hit quarterbacks below the knees -- despite the fact that it seems to happen routinely.
Because we're Bengals fans, we'd like to point out that Burfict is losing balance and began falling into the quarterback and Pat Sims also getting involved in the play didn't help.
These type of accusations haunt Burfict. Former Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith called him dirty last year after being crushed by Cincinnati's all-pro linebacker during an Adam Jones interception. Several Pittsburgh players alleged that Burfict celebrated Le'Veon Bell's injury in November (which earned Burfict a death threat from Steelers' linebacker Vince Williams), Burfict was fined $25,000 for twisting the ankles of Panthers tight end Greg Olsen and quarterback Cam Newton last season, while also fined $10,000 for striking Packers tight end Ryan Taylor in the groin in 2013.
As Werder points out, Burfict has been fined four times for $77,000; two of those four fines were the result of hitting a defenseless receiver and spearing, not questionable conduct.