The Bengals-Steelers rivalry got out of hand on Monday Night Football.

After the game already had a terrifying moment moment when Pittsburgh linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered a scary-looking back injury and had to leave in an ambulance, the fourth quarter featured a couple of brutal hits.

With seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster put on a vicious hit to the head of Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict while “blocking” on a pass play. Burfict had to be carted off.

ESPN play-by-play man Sean McDonough went off about the play, and especially about Smith-Schuster standing over Burfict after the hit.

“Shame on him,” McDonough said.

Gruden added that it was “sickening.”

“And Jon, what I can’t believe, on this of all nights, when he and his teammates and everybody else watching this game watched Ryan Shazier get seriously injured it seemed, that in the front of everybody’s mind, to deliver a hit like that, that’s illegal, and then stand over a man who you might of seriously injured… shame on him.”

Well said by McDonough.

But Smith-Schuster was allowed to stay in the game, and later on the drive, the football guy in Gruden came out when he basically praised Smith-Schuster and his physicality on this block.

The drive ended with Steelers superstar wide receiver Antonio Brown taking a nasty hit to the head from Cincinnati safety George Iloka on a touchdown.

Gruden went back to sounding disappointed: “I hate seeing this type of football.”

And Gruden continued to criticize the plays — and the Smith-Schuster taunting penalty for standing over Burfict — during SportsCenter after the game, saying they were “disgusting and disturbing” and “uncalled for.”

So that’s how McDonough and Gruden responded to these “disgusting and disturbing” moments on Monday Night Football, and it will be interesting to see how the league does.


About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

He can be followed on Twitter at @Matt2Clapp (also @TheBlogfines for Cubs/MLB tweets and @DaBearNecess for Bears/NFL tweets), and can be reached by email at

  • Dale Moog

    This is what the game used to be built on. That is why we have so many former players with CTE the NFL needs to crack down on these types of plays I am glad they were calling these guys out it is way past time we get the head hunting out of football

  • common_sense_is

    Just make it two hand touch already. I see nothing wrong with these hits.

  • Carter_Burger67

    So the Bengals and Steelers playing old time, smash mouth football the way it used to be played before the pussies took over the league and Sean and Jon are getting a little squeamish over it. Perhaps it’s time to step aside girls and let real men show you how football is supposed to be played.

    • Robbymack87

      The Neanderthal demographic is fully accounted for

      • Carter_Burger67

        fuck you. how’s that?

      • Carter_Burger67

        fuck you, you limp wristed pussy. How’s that? Better?

        • GuyIncognito

          Look at the badass over here cheering on shitty football because he’s such an alpha male.

          • Shame Hannity

            Carter_Burger67 may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but he’s definitely the AA poster tough guy!!

          • Carter_Burger67

            And another limp dicked keyboard warrior chirps up.

          • Shame Hannity

            Thanks for confirming my post, Carter. You should have stayed in school rather than drop out after the 7th grade. But at least you can type…..

          • Carter_Burger67

            and your mom should have swallowed that load.

          • Shame Hannity

            Your IQ is much lower than I thought, Carter. Your response confirms that you are a product of inbreeding. I doubt that I will be traveling through the state of Mississippi anytime soon….

          • Carter_Burger67

            That’s what happens when you try to think and you are not used to it.

          • Carter_Burger67

            Look at the keyboard warrior making himself feel better by jumping in the debate when it’s safe.

          • Midnight

            What was shitty about it? Holier than though people like you have no business watching football. You probably only watched the “highlights” and then jump on the bandwagon.

          • Carter_Burger67

            I got money they are clueless about the game, much less actually watch it. Highlights or otherwise. I think the technical term is called ‘virtue signalling’.

        • djwess

          Enjoy your ban.

          • Carter_Burger67

            I got your ban right here.

          • Carter_Burger67

            how’s that ban going for you?

    • Midnight

      I loved it.

  • Brian E Blose

    Maybe you guys should change sports. Golf maybe more your thing

    • djwess

      Pick up your knuckles a bit, they’re dragging.

      • Midnight

        Subscribe to the golf channel. You have no business watching NFL football. It’s not a gentleman’s sport. You probably watch 1or 2 games per season and the Super Bowl.

  • BobLee Says

    Among all the Top Ten Issues Facing The NFL is “it is too rough” in any fan’s Top Five? I don’t watch The NFL so my opinion doesn’t count, but unless he’s a relative (or “your team’s” best player) why would a goggle-eyed spittle-spewing fan care about players getting hurt? Its not like they are real people… just a very realistic video game… Right?

  • boochx

    Earlier in the game, Gruden said he would “buy season tickets to watch Vontaze Burfict play.” He should say the same about JuJu now. Unless he is a hypocrite.

    • Midnight

      The hypocrite Gruden praised Burfict’s style of play and complained that the refs were throwing too many flags and penalties (which I think was their way of proactively keeping control of the game…) Shazier inflicted his own injury and JuJu’s hit was legal. This blindside hit nonsense is nonsense. Too bad Burfict wasn’t looking where he was running. It’s not like JuJu came out of nowhere. Burfict got the wind knocked out of him, tried to grab and twist JuJu’s ankle after the play and then played dead out of embarrassment for getting leveled. Steelers/Bengals play rough together. It’s as simple as that. I’m actually disgusted by Gruden’s comments. I asked myself if I was watching the same game as he was. BTW, I’m a female and that was football.

  • Deon Hamner

    Frank Gifford was laid out by Chuck Bednarik that cost Gifford two freaking seasons! What did Bednarik do? Stood over him and fist pumped… SI Photo of the Year. In 2017, it’s shame on him… I love the hit. It’s what made football great. Burfict got exactly what was coming towards him.. .

  • CreightonRabs

    I didn’t care for the taunting by JJSS after that hit, but I didn’t see anything overly illegal about the hit. It appeared to be a shoulder pad to chest block from the replays showed. And let’s not forget that Vontaze Burfict isn’t exactly the clean player that Gruden was trying to put by in over as. We Steelers fans remember the injuries he has inflicted on Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown over the past few seasons. But, hey, I guess the overrated Gruden must be angling for the Cincinnati job if/when Marvin Lewis is fired.

  • michele king

    These two are the worst, especially Sean. Gruden is just bias on all things Ohio. Hit from JUJU no problem, clean, the taunting is uncalled for, but with all the chirping going on,I’m sure he got his share from the other side. You want to talk disgusting and intentional Jon, talk about the hit on AB that was definitely intentional. I wish the AFC No would include the Pat’s, that cupcake division they play in currently isn’t a challenge.

    • Midnight

      Perfectly said! AFC north is badass football. Tom Brady would have his legs broken

  • romeyinfc

    Regardless of whether the hit is too brutal in 2017, I think it’s troubling seeing so many players resorting taking justice into their own hands on the field. There’s been multiple times this season where you see brutal hits that take players out of the game, and the offending player continues to play (like Danny Trevathan on Devante Adams). At worst they get punished for the following games, but it doesn’t do anything to change the result of your current games, when one of their best players is now gone. With that inaction by the officials it becomes all-too tempting for players to take matters into their own hands and retaliate. Fines haven’t deterred the behavior, future suspensions haven’t worked, maybe more immediate ejections are in order – you concuss or maim a player on what appeared to be preventable, you’re out for the rest of that game.