To say the rematch between the Bengals and Steelers last Sunday was chippy, would be an understatement. A pre-game shoving match spring-boarded from a month-long war of words between the teams, with other big hits and after-the-whistle antics littered the game film.
In the middle of all the issues was Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Whether it was the receiving of a Twitter threat and following it up with some jawing to help instigate the initial on-field argument, returning some big hits or diving at the lower extremities of Ben Roethlisberger, Burfict made sure he wasn't going to back down from anything Pittsburgh was giving him.
Earlier this week, Burfict's agent, publicly stated that the former Pro Bowl linebacker was not going to be fined by the NFL for a particular hit on Big Ben. The issue was pressed to the league by Roethlisberger, who didn't buy Burfict's excuse that he was pushed, forcing the questionable hit. One source with the Steelers team said: "Dirty play, dirty player."
Some might say the intent was there given the bad blood between the teams, while others will note at the end of the clip Burfict's gesture to Roethlisberger almost showing immediate concern. Propelling the whole issue was Burfict being the tackler on Le'Veon Ball in the first match-up in a hit that ended the star running back's season.
As it turns out, Burfict will be fined for a currently-undisclosed amount, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. He got the inside information from Burfict's agent, Audie Attar. Burfict is appealing the decision.
As it turns out, NFL fined Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict today for hit on Ben Roethlisberger, per agent Audie Attar. Burfict appealing fine.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 18, 2015
But, he wasn't only fined for that one hit, he was fined for three plays from Sunday's game.
Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict actually fined for Three plays Sunday, per source: Two unnecessary roughnesses and one hit on Ben Roethlisberger.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 18, 2015
Given the league getting a little bit of heat for not properly controlling the angry situation between the teams by not clamping down on some of the verbal shots fired by Steelers players before the Week 14 game, it seems unlikely they'll grant Burfict's appeal as a too-late effort to get a grasp on the rivalry. Of course, it's yet to be determined. Another issue standing in the way of Burfict winning the appeal is a track record of being accused for more hits like these, including an infamous ankle twist of Cam Newton last season.
It's just another chapter in a long-storied rivalry that has been fueled over the past decade. It's possible the two teams will meet again in this year's playoffs, so it will be interesting to see if the antics continue should a third showdown comes to pass. For now, Burfict will be dealing with this situation, while the team heals up and preps itself for solid postseason seeding.