My opinion on the Steelers v. Bengals wildcard game
One could easily say that the NFL, as well as some professional football followers, would like to forget the horrible day that the league had Saturday, January 9th. Fans were treated to a rivalry game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals. The display put on the field in the later part of the game was an utter embarrassment for the NFL, a complete disgrace.
The third quarter brought around the play that started the downfall of the game. The Bengals had the ball and were making their first drive deep into Steelers’ territory. On a third down, AJ McCarron checked the ball down to Giovani Bernard who turned up field to try and get a first down. After he turned, Ryan Shazier hit him hard with helmet-to-helmet contact, leaving him shaken up on the play, and sending him straight to the ground. A penalty should have been given for leading with the crown of his helmet, but no flag was thrown.
To make matters worse, Bernard had fumbled the ball as a result of the hard hit, and Shazier ran the length of the field to return it for a touchdown, despite the whistle having already blown. The Bengals took exception to Shazier’s action, and Jeremy Hill attempted to take on four Steelers at midfield. It was an ugly sequence of events, and one that was terribly mishandled by the officiating crew.
Now, the officials were so wildly inconsistent with their personal foul calls that was truly hard to follow. Early in the game, the officials were so worried about behavior escalating that they were calling personal fouls on plays that were questionable at best for warranting a flag. Worst of all, the commentators for the game, namely Phil Simms, blindly agreed with every call made in the game. Yes, the officials were trying to keep the game under control, but they babied the players early on. Then, when tempers boiled over, they barely did anything. It was truly an embarrassment for the league and their officials.
Probably what sent me over the edge with this game was when Ben Roethlisberger got sacked and hurt his shoulder. While the officials actually made a proper no-call for the first time in the game, the network painted Burfict as a villain who was out to get Roethlisberger. Yes, the two do have a history, but there was nothing dirty about Burfict’s hit. He was simply going for a sack on Roethlisberger, and Big Ben landed hard on his shoulder.Then, when Roethlisberger was carted off the field, the Cincinnati fans started pelting him with various items that they had at their seats, such as cans, bottles, and whatever trash they could find lying near them. It was a disgusting display from the fan base, and they should be ashamed of themselves for their behavior as well. No matter what, there is a massive difference between rooting against a player and rooting for them to get hurt.
The game ended with a win for Pittsburgh, and the Bengals went home, literally and figuratively crying. However, overall, the NFL game board should be the one’s crying, now that they see how unsportsmanlike the traditional pastime game has become.