The NFL is reportedly reviewing three hits Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict had during Sunday's loss to the Steelers.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that it is unlikely Burfict faces a suspension after the plays are reviewed. However, according to ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler, some Pittsburgh players say missing games would be the appropriate discipline for the seventh-year linebacker.
"That's pathetic," Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert said about the third quarter hit on Brown, according to Fowler. "The NFL has to do something about that. A guy like that, going out there intentionally trying to hurt people, there's no need for that kind of playing in this league. It's sad. One of these days he'll grow up."
On the play, a pair of defenders was tackling Brown before Burfict got involved. As Brown was going to the ground, Burfict came to deliver a hit and made contact with Brown's head and upper body area with what appeared to be Burfict's elbow. Brown was down for a moment and got evaluated by the medical staff before eventually returning to the game.
"He's hurting his team," Gilbert said. "It could have been a costly penalty right there. Who knows? He should be suspended for that hit. We'll see. But he's too good of a football player to be missing games like that."
"It's tough to see AB get hit like that," guard David DeCastro said, according to Fowler. "With all the emphasis on quarterback safety, what about a guy like AB: A superstar he is in this league, how much money he's getting paid, how much he means to this team? A cheap shot like that, I thought was unnecessary. ... If they want to talk about making this game safer, maybe they will do something. Or maybe they will put in a new rule that no one is going to call when it matters. Maybe it's a PR stunt."
After the game on Sunday, Brown called the play as a "nasty hit," but added he couldn't really tell just how Burfict hit him and if it was against the rules.
The other two plays the league is reportedly reviewing are about Burfict leading with his helmet on hits.
Burfict, who missed the first four games of 2018 due to a suspension for violating the league's performance enhancing drug policy, has been suspended for illegal hits in the past, including another against Brown. In 2016 Burfict missed the first three games of the year for a hit he had against Brown in the playoffs the season before, and last season he missed the first three games for a hit he made against Chiefs running back Anthony Sherman in the preseason. That suspension was initially five games, but was reduced following an appeal.
In two games this season, Burfict has 15 tackles. The 4-2 Bengals are tied for first in the AFC North with the Ravens, and play the 5-1 Chiefs on the road for Week 7.