Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger watched Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict crumple to the ground after a devastating hit from wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
As much as there is bad blood between the Steelers and the Bengals, especially involving Burfict, Roethlisberger could tell he was hurt instantly. And he felt bad for him.
“I said a prayer for him there,” Roethlisberger said, per Jerry DiPaola of Trib Live. “Regardless of what’s happened in the past, regardless of what you think of him as a person or player, anytime someone goes down and is injured you have to feel compassion and feel compelled to pray for that person that he’ll be OK.”
Smith-Schuster has been suspended for one game for the block. Even so, Roethlisberger thinks it was a fair hit, regardless of the outcome.
“I don’t think it was a cheap shot by any means,” Roethlisberger said. “Cheap shots are when you hit someone away from the play and go low on someone who’s not looking. He’s trying to block a guy who’s probably going to make a tackle.”
He’s not wrong. The hit was needed as Burfict was tracking the play. Smith-Schuster just got in hot water for hitting too high and for taunting Burfict and standing over him while he was injured. With all the work the NFL has done to get rid of head injuries, that’s not the image they want on national television.
“I told him after, ‘Love the effort. Love how you’re trying to help your teammate get open,’” Roethlisberger added. “’Standing over a guy, uncalled for.’ I think he knew it right away. He genuinely felt bad about that.”
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