The NFL has suspended Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict for the first three games of the 2016 season for “repeated violations of safety-related playing rules.”
Burfict’s most recent violation came with 18 seconds left in Saturday night’s 18-16 loss to Pittsburgh in an AFC Wild-Card game when he drew a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty for making forcible contact to the head of Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown.
The NFL has not yet announced if Burfict also received a fine for the hit. If he does, it would be his fifth of the season.
He drew a $50,000 fine for unnecessarily contacting an opponent who was out of play during the regular-season finale against Baltimore. Burfict was fined $69,454 for three infractions in the Dec. 13 game against Pittsburgh. One was for roughing the passer when he dove low at the legs of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, another was for a facemask penalty and the last was for unnecessary roughness in the final minutes.
His penalty against Brown moved the Steelers into field goal range and was followed by an unnecessary roughness penalty against cornerback Adam Jones. The two flags moved the Steelers from the Cincinnati 47 to the 17, where kicker Chris Boswell made a 35-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining to lift the Steelers to the two-point win.
Under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, Burfict has three days to appeal the suspension.
The NFL said in a statement that the conduct of other players and coaches in the Steelers-Bengals game is being reviewed for potential discipline.
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