During last year’s NFL playoffs, the world pretty much came to a consensus that Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict skirts the boundaries of clean play. But according to Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, Cincinnati’s outlaw tactics extend far past Burfict.
Bell, whose 2015 season ended in November when he tore his MCL after being tackled by Burfict, had this to say Tuesday, via ESPN:
“I feel there are a lot of teams that try to do that, try to take me out of the game,” Bell said. “I don’t think it was just [Burfict]. It felt like the whole team was out there trying to twist my ankles and do little dirty stuff in between piles … I was ignorant to the fact at first.”
Bell also said “a lot of teams in our division play the same way” and presented himself as an ignorant victim of opposing teams’ rule-bending.
The Bengals have certainly developed a reputation as a dirty team. Burfct’s 15-yard personal foul penalty in the fourth quarter of last year’s wild card playoff game against Pittsburgh, along with another 15-yard infraction by Pacman Jones, helped hand the game to gimpy-armed Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers.
The Steelers and Bengals meet for the first time this season in Week 2 in Pittsburgh, which — given the rivalry, the fiasco in the playoffs and these comments — could be chippiest NFL game ever played in October.