Vontaze Burfict blames Bengals teammate for playoff loss to Steelers

For most people in Cincinnati, the Bengals' wild-card playoff loss to the Steelers will go down as one of the most painful defeats in franchise history.

Over the final 1:30 of the fourth quarter, the Bengals suffered a complete meltdown, and in the process, they allowed an injured Ben Roethlisberger to drive the Steelers 74 yards in 69 seconds for the winning field goal.

A big part of the Steelers' drive came with under 25 seconds left in the game when the Bengals were called for consecutive personal foul penalties, which gave the Steelers 30 free yards. One of those penalities was called on Vontaze Burfict, who was flagged for hitting Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown in the head.

Although a lot of people blamed Burfict for the Bengals' loss, Burfict apparently doesn't feel the same way. During an interview with ESPN's Josina Anderson, the Bengals linebacker said that the loss wasn't his fault.

Burfict was asked directly if he blamed himself for the loss against the Steelers.

"No, I don't," Burfict said.

According to Burfict, most of the blame for the loss should fall on a teammate, who he didn't name.

"There was only a minute left in the game," Burfict said. "Coach always says, 'Trust a teammate to pack your parachute,' and I trusted my teammate. I don't want to say any names, but I trusted my teammates to execute and finish the game."

Burfict is almost certainly referring to running back Jeremy Hill, who lost a fumble to the Steelers in Pittsburgh territory -- after the Bengals got the ball on a Burfict interception -- with just 1:23 left in the game. Unlike Burfict, Hill was willing to take responsibility for the loss.

The entire interview, which you can see here, is fascinating and definitely worth a watch. A portion of the interview was released on Feb. 23, but the entire interview wasn't released until Tuesday.

Burfict spent a good chunk of the interview giving a pretty well-rounded defense of his illegal hit of Brown.

"I tried to pull up at the last second, but it was obviously too late -- it's a bang-bang play," Burfict said.

The linebacker also talked about his meeting with Roger Goodell. Burfict flew to New York in February to appeal the three-game suspension he was handed for his hit on Brown.

"One question that [Goodell] asked me, 'How do you feel about your opponents when they get hurt?'" Burfict said. "And I said, 'In the moment, you can't care about your opponent because if you care about them you're going to mess up your assignment.' His point was, I have to care about my opponent. I understand where he's coming from because if you care about your opponent, you'll probably play cleaner."

Burfict also added that Goodell told him to play cleaner.

"They were just telling me, 'I don't want this to happen again. I hope this is the last time we have to meet,'" Burfict said.

Despite his troubles, Burfict is still beloved by the Bengals' coaching staff. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther recently said that he's going to hire Burfict as a coach when the linebacker retires.

Vontaze Burfict says the Bengals playoff loss wasn't his fault. (USATSI)
Vontaze Burfict says the Bengals playoff loss wasn't his fault. (USATSI)
CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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