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.