Last year, a Week 17 clash between the two AFC North rivals saw star players Le'Veon Bell and A.J. Green go down with injuries that would knock them out of the next week's playoff games for both teams as they lost in the Wild Card round.
This time, the Bengals knocked themselves out of the playoffs but also may have hurt the Steelers' chances as well. All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown has been ruled out for Sunday's game vs the Denver Broncos due to a concussion suffered against the Bengals.
Brown sustained the concussion during Pittsburgh's final drive Saturday night after taking a big hit from Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
Not everyone thought the reaction from Brown was real, especially when he was seen celebrating, jumping up and down and dancing in the locker room after the Steelers win. Bengals cornerback Adam Jones thought Brown was faking the post-hit reaction in order to help coax the referees to throw the flag for a personal foul penalty and give Pittsburgh 15 yards.
Jones has since vowed to issue an apology to Brown if the Steelers receiver doesn't play in the Divisional Round game against the Broncos because of a concussion. Jones made that statement on national television Tuesday night, when he appeared in a sit-down interview with New York Jets receiver Brandon Marshall on the latest episode of "Inside the NFL" on Showtime.
"I will send out an apology," Jones said. "If he don't play. But you know and I know that when Saturday gets here, all of that is going out the window, man... When Saturday gets here, whatever time they play, he's going to be cleared Friday. I promise you: 24 hours before the game."
But, Brown has now been ruled out and officially won't play on Saturday.
Another reason Jones thought Brown was faking it was because Brown winked at the Bengals when leaving the field after going down with the injury. Considering the video of Brown celebrating with the Steelers in the locker room after the win, it certainly makes it appear he's alright and you can certainly see why Jones was upset and thought Brown may have been exaggerating his injury.
Still, it looks like Jones was wrong and will owe Brown an apology sooner rather than later. It's also not really relevant whether Brown was faking the injury or not.