Cincy LB very far from Burfict

PTTSBURGH — Vontaze Burfict was sneaky dirty this time.

The Cincinnati Bengals linebacker dropped an elbow on Antonio Brown’s head that TV cameras saw but game officials didn’t.

After that, players reported that Burfict yelled across the line of scrimmage, “You’re next” at Steelers’ second-year receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Smith-Schuster said Burfict spent a good part of Sunday’s game verbally threatening him, although nothing tangible came of it.

Just another AFC North game.

Burfict deserves a fine for the shot on Brown. If Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt got a $20,000 fine (and an on-field penalty) for bumping up against quarterback Matt Ryan’s legs in the Atlanta game, Burfict deserves at least that much.

Surely some of the officials heard him making threats. Isn’t there a time where that comes under the catch-all of “unsportsmanlike conduct” and merits a flag?

Some people think there are too many penalty flags in NFL games. This was a case where there should have been more.

Looking back

Some observations from the Steelers’ victory in Cincinnati:

n The most impressive performance of the day was turned in by the Steelers’ offensive line. The Bengals had no sacks and never knocked Roethlisberger down. In fact, Roethlisberger said he couldn’t recall even being touched by a Bengals player more than three times in the game. Credit to the offensive line against a pass rush that is generally pretty good.

n Roethlisberger had an interesting comment about Le’Veon Bell on his weekly radio show. He said that even if Bell showed up now, it would still probably be three or four weeks before Bell would in peak football shape and ready to absorb regular contact.

That should take care of the question of who the starter should be. For the foreseeable future, it’s James Conner.

n You could tell there was something special about Sunday’s game by the enthusiasm Mike Tomlin displayed in his post-game question and answer session. The coach doesn’t like show a lot of emotion in the media room. He puts on that stone face and answers questions by rote. This time, though, he was clearly excited by the way things unfolded and by the way the Steelers played.

n Cornerback Artie Burns was only on the field for 21 snaps on Sunday. The former No. 1 pick has played his way onto the bench for the moment.

n Looks like the radar Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown have shared for years is honed in again.

n Also looks like Roethlisberger is very comfortable with the ability of his tight ends to make plays. Both Vance McDonald and Jesse James have become favored targets. Watching McDonald mow down would-be tacklers has become a special treat for Steelers fans. May all of PennDOT’s snow plows be that effective this winter.

On this date…

It doesn’t get nearly the notice that Bill Mazeroski Day (Oct. 13) does, but today is the anniversary of the Pirates’ last two World Series, 1971 and 1979, both in Baltimore.

The players had to fight their way off the field in ’79. Joe Shuta’s popular “Two Minute Timeout” has a good feature with catcher Steve Nicosia reminiscing about that experience and an odd reunion with a guy he roughed up. You can find it at: and it only takes two minutes.

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