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Looking at Vontaze Burfict's personal fouls against the Bills

We take a look at Vontaze Burfict's two unnecessary roughness penalties, as well as the 15-yard face mask in the first quarter.

Rick Stewart

Citing two unnecessary roughness calls against the Buffalo Bills, there's some circles that believe the league is actively targeting Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict. While I don't have point out how ridiculous the assertion that officials are specifically targeting Burfict, there is definite awareness when it comes to the Bengals second-year linebacker.

The first happened with over ten minutes remaining in the first quarter when Burfict landed on a scrambling Thad Lewis, who slid to avoid the contact after a four-yard gain.


The officials called unnecessary roughness, moving Buffalo from the Bengals 20-yard line to the eight. Generally speaking, officials usually don't flag this if the defender was already in the act of making a tackle prior to the quarterback's decision to slide. While Wallace Gilberry was, Burfict wasn't.


Burfict's final personal foul was far more suspicious -- alright, it was the worst of worse calls. The Bills have third and three from the Bills 41-yard line with 5:43 remaining in the second quarter. Lewis hits receiver T.J. Graham over the middle for a four-yard gain, giving the Bills a first down.

A flag was thrown. Burfict was called for helmet to helmet contact. After Solomon Wilcots stopped giggling at the preposterous flag, he says, "You've got to be able to play football." This is the flag that got Marvin Lewis, who usually has a calm demeanor on the sidelines, fired up.

The play.


Graham's head didn't even move.

A cleaner view.


"I’m pretty sure (the NFL) is going to review it, but I didn’t think it was a flag," said Burfict after the game recounting all three flags. "The quarterback dove, I had left my feet already and he dove at my legs. They said I led with my helmet, the other was a facemask, my facemask had been pulled. I just reached my arm out and got his facemask. The helmet to helmet one I thought I had the ball in my hands."

Later in the first quarter with 3:17 remaining in the first, Burfict was engaged with a blocker when he grasped Fred Jackson's face mark, moving the Bills to the Bengals 31-yard line.

This one is a little more obvious (but not really part of the context of the discussion).