After a grueling, hard-fought 16-game regular season, the Cincinnati Bengals cost themselves a chance to earn the franchise’s first playoff victory since 1991 by acting like a bunch of fucking delinquents on the field. While the Pittsburgh Steelers, who defeated the Bengals 18-16 at Paul Brown Stadium, engaged in their fair share of atrocious behavior, the display that the Bengals put on throughout the entire game was absolutely inexcusable.
The most glaring examples of reckless actions by Bengals, and the ones that will be the most well-remembered, were the 15-yard penalties committed by linebacker Vontaze Burfict and cornerback Adam “Pac-Man” Jones that enabled the Steelers to get within range for a game-winning field goal.
Burfict’s intentional blow to the head of Steelers receiver Antonio Brown was the one of the most disgusting acts ever committed in the game of football and one that should bring with it a suspension. Burfict proved via that ridiculously callous and selfish act that, one, he might have a few screws loose and, two, that he clearly is not responsible enough to be trusted as an NFL player. Burfict might find himself being shown the door in the offseason because he cost his team a playoff game.
As for Pac-Man, he caught the wrath of a disgruntled referee who had obviously gotten testy after having to deal with antics from both teams for the duration of the game. Pac-Man seemed to incidentally bump him while jawing at Pittsburgh linebackers coach Joey Porter (who had no right to be on the field, anyway). Pac-Man has matured tremendously in his time with the Bengals, so it is difficult to pin too much blame on him for this act, but it is disconcerting nonetheless.
The misbehavior of both teams made the game almost farcical and was an embarrassment to the league. There were players coming off of the sidelines to mouth off at players on the field, scuffles at midfield, a coach pulling one player’s hair. It was an absolute fucking joke.
The Bengals paid the price for acting up at the most crucial point in the game, and, now, their season is over because of it. The NFL is a grown man’s league, but one would not be able to tell it by watching the Bengals and Steelers play on Saturday night.