Steelers WR Smith-Schuster, Bengals S Iloka suspended
Sports Xchange - Wednesday 6th December, 2017
Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and Cincinnati Bengals safety George Iloka received one-game suspensions from the NFL for violations of safety-related playing rules in Monday's contest.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday that both players are appealing the suspensions.
Smith-Schuster administered a blindside block on Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict during Pittsburgh's 23-20 win at Paul Brown Stadium.
Smith-Schuster leveled Burfict as the latter pursued Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell on a 12-yard gain with 7:10 remaining in the fourth quarter. The wideout then stood over Burfict, with Smith-Schuster later admitting that he "messed up" by taunting the fallen linebacker since it cost his team 15 yards.
Jon Runyan, the NFL vice president of football operations, wrote in a letter to Smith-Schuster that he violated a rule that prohibits unnecessary contact with a player who is in a defenseless posture. Runyan also took issue as Smith-Schuster "celebrated" the hit, writing "your conduct following the hit fell far below the high standards of sportsmanship expected of an NFL player."
Smith-Schuster apologized for the hit during post-game interviews as well as on Twitter.
"He shouldn't have stood over him," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "You coach off the video. The fact that he stood over him. ... That's not reflective of the sportsman he is."
Iloka drilled Antonio Brown in the head and neck area after the Steelers wideout reeled in a 6-yard touchdown reception with 3:55 remaining in the contest. Brown was deemed to be a defenseless receiver at the time of the hit.
Runyan wrote the following to Iloka:
"On a play which began with 3:55 left in the game, you violently struck a defenseless receiver in the head and neck area. The Competition Committee has clearly expressed its goal of 'eliminating flagrant hits that have no place in our game' and has encouraged the League office to suspend offenders for egregious violations such as the one you committed last night."
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