Steel­ers ready for an­other phys­i­cal bat­tle

The Times-Tribune - - SPORTS - BY DAN SCIFO

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.”

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