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Vontaze Burfict carted off after suffering head injury

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  • By Austin Knoblauch NFL.com
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Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict was placed on a backboard and carted off the field after suffering a head injury on a hit by Pittsburgh's JuJu Smith-Schuster during the fourth quarter of the Steelers' 23-20 victory Monday.

Smith-Schuster delivered the hit while trying to clear a running lane for Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell on a 12-yard pass. The rookie wide receiver then stood over the fallen Burfict while he was on the ground.

Smith-Schuster was flagged for taunting and unnecessary roughness on the play.

"I was just playing to the whistle," Smith-Schuster said. "I didn't mean to stand over him. I was trying to get a big block for Le'Veon Bell for him to get up field. The unsportsmanlike conduct is not me. I shouldn't have done that. I hope he's OK and I hope he gets better."

He apologized via Twitter a short time later:

"He shouldn't have stood over him," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "That's not reflective of the sportsman that he is, and I'm sure he's sorry for that."

ESPN's Lisa Salters reported that Burfict got off the cart once he left the field and walked into the locker room. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis did not have an update on Burfict's condition after the game.

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green didn't hold back on his assessment of what happened.

"It was a dirty hit, man. A dirty hit," Green said. "It's not called for. We already play a dangerous sport. We all put our lives on the line when we come out here every week, and you don't want anything like that to happen to a player, no matter what team you play for or how big the rivalry is. We have to protect each other. We already play a high-injury sport."

UPDATE: The NFL on Tuesday afternoon suspended Smith-Schuster for one game. The league also suspended Bengals safety George Iloka for one game for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Antonio Brown.

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