According to Burfict's agent (via ESPN's Adam Schefter), Burfict will not be fined for his low hit on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during Sunday's 33-20 loss. The NFL reviewed the play in question, which came during Pittsburgh's first offensive possession, but determined the hit was not worthy of a fine.
Here is the play in question:
You could make a good argument for that being the kind of low hit the NFL is trying to prevent from happening to quarterbacks. You could also make an argument that, when viewing the play at actual game speed, Burfict is already launching himself toward Roethlisberger as the ball is being released while having to go low to avoid a collision right into defensive tackle Pat Sims who's bearing down on Roethlisberger as well.
According to Coley Harvey, that is the reason Burfict won't be fined.
Either way, given Burfict's history, it was fair to think the NFL would air on the side of not giving Burfict he benefit of the doubt here. Burfict has been fined four times for $77,000 during his career with two of those fines being the result of hitting a defenseless receiver and spearing. Burfict was fined $25,000 for twisting the ankles of Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen and quarterback Cam Newton last season. He was fined $10,000 for hitting Green Bay Packers tight end Ryan Taylor in the groin in 2013.
The league obviously didn't think there was enough evidence in this particular case to warrant a fine for Tez. However, Roethlisberger has made it clear he thought the play was a cheap shot, via ESPN:
During his weekly appearance with Pittsburgh's 93.7 The Fan, Roethlisberger recalled Burfict telling him on the field that he got pushed into him. He said Burfict, who was not penalized on the play but could be disciplined by the league, told him, "My bad."
Roethlisberger watched the clip after the game.
"I don't buy he was pushed," Roethlisberger said. "I think he was definitely diving low for my legs."
A Steelers source told ESPN that Roethlisberger's claim is validated based on film review.
"Dirty play, dirty player,'' the source said. "Tape doesn't lie. We're fortunate we didn't lose Ben for good."
Burfict also told Coley Harvey that "it's football" when asked about the hit. It's also hard to give Burfict, or any NFL player for that matter, too much grief for a low hit when today's NFL dictates you hit players low rather than hit them high. You see far more penalties called for hitting a quarterback high near the head then you do for hitting them low. That's in part because of the league trying to lower the amount of blows to the head and possible concussions that follow.
Burfict's history makes it hard to defend him anytime a questionable hit or play comes up, but it looks like the NFL sided with him on this occasion.
This also adds to the Steelers vs Bengals rivalry that's easily become one of, if not the NFL's best. It's crazy to think a possible third matchup between these two AFC North rivals could come in the playoffs with both teams inching closer toward postseason berths. With the blood already boiling between these two teams, combined with the high stakes of a do-or-die playoff game, it could be as fierce of a matchup as we've seen among these hated rivals in recent memory.