Vontaze Burfict has been playing inspired and aggressive football. Against the Steelers, he’ll have to keep his cool and set the tone for victory.
When Vontaze Burfict takes the field, there’s always a different set of values. Bengals fans love the throwback qualities of his play. Most opponents are likely waiting for him to cause chaos. That turmoil could come in the form of breaking up plays or making life miserable for the quarterback of the moment. When the Bengals play the Steelers in a Week 15 matchup, Burfict will have to set the tone.
Everybody feeds off him.
The Bengals D has taken a turn for the better. In the past four games, Paul Guenther’s unit has been playing at a level that was expected from day one of the 2016 season. But, from the onset, Burfict was the missing piece that the defense needed. His absence was noticed in missed assignments and a lack of fire. Since his return, things have been–dare we say–back to normal.
The recent and past history between the Bengals and Steelers is not pretty. The most incriminating incident is one that Cincinnati fans would like to have erased from memory. Burfict’s now infamous hit on Antonio Brown, during the AFC Wild Card game, was the last straw for the NFL. Burfict was hit with a three-game suspension. In that span, the Bengals went 1-2. Things may have been different if the Stripes had him available.
Get The Defense Hyped Early
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Yes, the two teams hate each other. There is indeed a sense of loathing. But, the chippy approach will have to take a backseat to what’s at stake. Both teams understand that the game is huge. The battle has been flexed from a primetime spot to the afternoon. Yet, the bottom line is still the same. There will be big hits, continuous action and drama galore. The Steelers want an easy route to the playoffs. Cincinnati wants to get in. Enormous is an understatement.
"“It’s a rivalry game for us. This is a good team. They have a lot at stake, and we do, too. We have to get through Cincinnati to get to where we want to go, and that’s our next stop.”"
This is where Burfict comes in. When No. 55 is playing at a high level, the defense is sure to follow. Guenther knows that his star pupil is getting better. He understands that the slow start was due to virtually no playing time in the preseason. Now, Burfict is playing at an amazing level.
"“Coming off a late start, really, he’s really rounding into form. He’s been playing at the highest level he’s played, probably ever.”"
Burfict has to inspire the Bengals’ D to harass Pittsburgh’s offense from the first snap.
Aggressive Play With No Penalties
Last year, the media was buzzing with accounts of the massive amounts of money Burfict owed the NFL. But, this year the defensive caveman has changed his approach. He has effectively channeled his emotions into the action on the field. The light has finally come on. Burfict understands that his fiery attitude feeds the team and can lead to a chain reaction that’s either good or bad.
Head coach Marvin Lewis described the passion of his linebacker.
"“He is going to fight and scratch all the time. It’s what he does. You just have to keep him pointed in the right direction and make sure he’s taking care of the details and little things of his work. Everybody feeds off him.”"
When the Steelers and Le’Veon Bell invade Paul Brown Stadium Sunday…Burfict will have to set the tone. But, this time for the better.