The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

cincin­nati» Ben­gals linebacker Von­taze Bur­fict was sus­pended for the first three games of next sea­son as the NFL be­gan hand­ing down pun­ish­ments on Mon­day for an ugly wild­card play­off game.

The league also is re­view­ing the con­duct of other play­ers and coaches dur­ing Pitts­burgh’s 18-16 vic­tory at Paul Brown Sta­dium on Satur­day night that turned on penal­ties against Bur­fict and Ben­gals cor­ner­back Adam “Pac­man” Jones in the fi­nal minute.

Bur­fict was pe­nal­ized for low­er­ing his shoul­der and hit­ting de­fense­less re­ceiver An­to­nio Brown in the head af­ter an in­com­ple­tion with 22 sec­onds left and the Ben­gals hold­ing a 16-15 lead. Brown got a con­cus­sion from the play.

Bur­fict had al­ready been fined four times for dan­ger­ous plays dur­ing the sea­son. He got a $50,000 fine for an il­le­gal hit on a Ravens player a week ear­lier. Bur­fict also was fined $69,454 for three penal­ties against the Steel­ers on Dec. 13: rough­ing the passer, grab­bing the face mask and un­nec­es­sary rough­ness.

Mer­ton Hanks, the league’s vice pres­i­dent of foot­ball op­er­a­tions, said the hit on Brown dur­ing the play­off game “placed his op­po­nent at un­nec­es­sary risk of in­jury and should have been avoided.”

Cough­lin in­ter­views. The Ea­gles com­pleted an in­ter­view with Tom Cough­lin for their coach­ing va­cancy.

Cough­lin is a two-time Su­per Bowl cham­pion, who stepped down last week af­ter 12 sea­sons with the Gi­ants.

The Ea­gles have in­ter­viewed six can­di­dates since fir­ing Chip Kelly on Dec. 29.

Wait­ing on Big Ben. The Bron­cos’ play­off game Sun­day against the Steel­ers is off the board in Las Ve­gas’ gam­bling houses while odds­mak­ers await word on in­jured Pitts­burgh quar­ter­back Ben Roeth­lis­berger’s sta­tus.

One thing that is known is that Den­ver will be fa­vored against the Steel­ers. Some on­line books that op­er­ate out­side the U.S. have the Bron­cos a 6- to 7-point pick, based on the as­sump­tion that Roeth­lis­berger will be play­ing.

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