Steelers ready for another physical battle
PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Juju Smith-schuster just wants to move on from last December’s physical primetime meeting with the Cincinnati Bengals.
But the second-year wideout thrust himself into one of the fiercest rivalries in the NFL last season with a memorable block against Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Smith-schuster was reminded of the hit prior to Sunday’s game at Cincinnati.
“I didn’t want to talk about it,” Smith-schuster said. “I knew you guys were going to want to talk about this and make something out of it, but I am just trying to get a “W” this weekend, that’s it.”
Last December, Smithschuster delivered a punishing blindside block on Burfict, the Steeler agitator, who ended running back Le’veon Bell’s season in 2015, and injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and receiver Antonio Brown in the same playoff game at Cincinnati later that year.
Smith-schuster got a 15-yard penalty for the block and another penalty for taunting when he stood over Burfict after the hit. He also was given a one-game suspension.
Burfict served a four-game suspension to open the current season. He returned to the lineup last week without incident and helped the firstplace Bengals beat Miami.
Smith-schuster said he’s not concerned about Burfict or the Bengals seeking revenge on Sunday.
“I’m just worried about the game, playing focused and playing with my teammates,” Smith-schuster said. “It’s the AFC North and the rivalry is very strong. It’s physical and it’s going to be a tough game.”
Last December’s game featured a combined 20 penalties for 239 yards, including a team-record 173 yards by the Bengals. It was also the game where Steelers LB Ryan Shazier sustained a life-altering spinal injury following a tackle.
“There were a lot of emotions on both sides of the ball, obviously with Shazier and what I did,” Smithschuster said. “But it’s just a physical game. That’s what you’re going to get out of it.”