Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger defended wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster for his block on Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict on Monday night, saying the hit wasn’t deserving of a suspension, according to ESPN.
“I didn’t think it was warranted,” said Roethlisberger of Smith-Schuster’s one-game ban. “I thought maybe a fine, a pretty steep fine, something like that. I thought what happened, the play that happened, happened in the context of a football play. It wasn’t away from the ball, it wasn’t a hit on a kicker or a defenseless player. It was a guy getting ready to make a tackle, a much bigger football player.”
Roethlisberger did go on to say that he did not approve of the wideout standing over Burfict as the linebacker lay on the ground after the hit.
“Obviously, we don’t like the taunting, standing over him, things like that,” he said.
He then brought New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski into the discussion. Gronkowski was also suspended one game for intentionally falling down on top of Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White and striking him in the back of the head.
Roethlisberger feels that what Gronkowski did was more severe.
“I don’t like to compare players and suspensions and things like that, but you look at what Gronk did and what JuJu did, and they got the same suspension. I don’t know that that’s necessarily fair.”
The Steelers improved to 10-2 with their win over the Bengals and have now won seven games in a row.