George Iloka was suspended for a game after Monday night's hit on Antonio Brown.
Bengals starting safety George Iloka figures to appeal his one-game suspension for hitting Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown in the head Monday night after he scored the tying touchdown on a six-yard catch with 3:51 left. After the game he said he had no intention of trying to hit Brown in the head.
"I was just trying to jar it out of there. There wasn't anything to it," Iloka said after he was flagged for unnecessary roughness. "They threw the ball, saw the corner right behind him, you're just trying to get the ball out … I was just trying to jar out the ball the best I can. Stuff happens fast. That's all I was trying to do."
But Jon Runyan, an NFL vice president of operations in charge of discipline, sent Iloka a letter that read in part:
"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."
Meanwhile, Steelers rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was suspended for a game for cheap-shotting Bengals WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict with a blind-side peel-back block when Schuster illegally went back up field to block on running back Le'Veon Bell's catch about three minutes before Iloka hit Brown.
Runyan wrote Smith-Schuster:
"You are suspended for the dangerous and unsportsmanlike acts you committed during the fourth quarter of last night's game. Specifically, with 7:10 remaining, on a passing play to a running back, you lined up a defender and delivered a violent and unnecessary blindside shot to his head and neck area. You then "celebrated" the play by standing over him and taunting him. The contact you made with your opponent placed the opposing player at risk of serious injury and could have been avoided. Your conduct following the hit fell far below the high standards of sportsmanship expected of an NFL player."
It was the second time in the game the Steelers were penalized for going after Burfict, a player that has been suspended twice for three games each for violating player safety rules and has taken the wrath of the Steelers. Running back Le'Veon Bell was called for unecessary roughness when he yanked Burfict to the ground and jumped on him after Bengals cornerback Adam Jones' interception ended the Steelers' first drive.
The Bengals are dangerously thin at safety if Iloka doesn't win his appeal. The other starter, Shawn Williams (hamstring) has missed the last two games and rookie safety Brandon Wilson, who has played his first four games as a special teamer, rolled his ankle Monday night. That leaves them with just two safeties in Clayton Fejedelem and Josh Shaw.