Vontaze Burfict blames Bengals teammate for playoff loss to Steelers
The Bengals linebacker says that Cincinnati's playoff loss wasn't his fault.
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.
Vontaze Burfict just managed to throw a teammate under the bus in his "stop-picking-on-me" interview on ESPN pic.twitter.com/NSyiT4y6ro— Guy Haberman (@GuyHaberman) March 2, 2016
"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.
This ones on me... This city this organization deserves better only thing to do is continue to fight and come back stronger— Jeremy Hill (@JeremyHill33) January 10, 2016
Burfict spent a good chunk of the interview giving a pretty well-rounded defense of his illegal hit of Brown.
This is just brutal pic.twitter.com/hBsIAJIBwO— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) January 10, 2016
"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.
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