The aftermath: Bengals' Iloka has suspension overturned
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By JOE KAY
Iloka and Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster each got a one-game suspension from the NFL in the aftermath of Pittsburgh's penalty-filled 23-20 victory at Paul Brown Stadium on Monday night. Iloka hit Brown in the head while trying to break up his game-tying touchdown catch.
Smith-Schuster was suspended for leveling linebacker Vontaze Burfict with a blindside hit and then taunting him by standing over him.
Smith-Schuster has apologized for the taunting. He'll sit out when the AFC North-leading Steelers (10-2) host second-place Baltimore (7-5) on Sunday night.
The nastiness that has escalated in the Steelers-Bengals rivalry boiled over Monday night. There were four penalties for unnecessary roughness, one for unsportsmanlike conduct, one for taunting, one for roughing the passer and two 15-yard penalties for grabbing the facemask.
Coach Marvin Lewis said that he and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin - who are on the league's competition committee - have addressed it with their teams.
"We don't want any of that stuff," Lewis said Wednesday. "I don't think either side wants to have any of that, the unnecessary roughing that occurred early in the game. We don't want to have a player hit with an illegal hit and then stood over.
"So I don't think anybody wants that, Coach Tomlin or myself or the clubs. So we understand that and I think both of us made that clear to the players. So that's not the look we want in the National Football League."
Tomlin met with reporters on Tuesday in Pittsburgh and said, "I'll acknowledge there were some unfortunate things in that game that we don't need in our game - by both sides."
Burfict has been at the center of the nastiness. His hit on Brown's head during a playoff game at Paul Brown Stadium in the 2015 season moved the Steelers in range for a winning field goal and drew a three-game suspension from the league.
When the Bengals played in Pittsburgh on Oct. 22, Burfict went out for the coin flip and refused to shake the Steelers' hands. He kicked running back Roosevelt Nix during the game, drawing a $12,154 fine from the league. He and Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell have continued the spat on Twitter.
On the sixth play of the game Monday night, Bell and Burfict went at it. Bell ended up grabbing Burfict's facemask and shoving him to the ground, drawing a penalty.
Smith-Schuster's hit on Burfict left the linebacker with a concussion, and he was carted off the field. Burfict is in concussion protocol and missed practice on Wednesday.
The Bengals were surprised that Iloka initially got his suspension.
"What JuJu did was definitely over the line," defensive end Carlos Dunlap said Wednesday. "What George did, I feel like he was making a play. He knew the receiver was trying to catch the ball. I don't think he targeted where he ended up hitting him.
"They suspended him because of what was going on and probably because of how the media portrayed the game. They felt that pressure. It should have been (only) a fine, and the other guy should have a suspension."
Quarterback Andy Dalton agreed that things got out of hand.
"You want to protect guys as much as you can," he said. "You can't have anything after the play. You can't have that happen."
The Bengals (5-7) host the Bears (3-9) on Sunday.
Top draft pick John Ross went on injured reserve Wednesday with a shoulder injury. The receiver missed most of camp while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and appeared in only three games. He had one carry that ended in a fumble, and didn't catch a pass. Defensive tackle Josh Tupou was promoted from the practice squad.
ALSO IN PROTOCOL
In addition to Kirkpatrick sitting out, starting cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones was sidelined by a groin injury suffered on the opening series. Cornerback Darqueze Dennard also was out with a knee injury. Linebacker Nick Vigil (ankle), and safeties Shawn Williams (hamstring) and Brandon Wilson (ankle) also were held out.
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Updated December 6, 2017