The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 18-16 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Wild Card Round was marred by untimely penalties and chippy play, and Pittsburgh assistant coach Mike Munchak was fined $10,000 for an altercation with Cincinnati safety Reggie Nelson.
Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk noted “Munchak appeared to shove Nelson and grab his hair,” and the offensive line coach was assessed a 15-yard penalty for the interaction on the Pittsburgh sideline.
The penalty was one of a handful of ugly incidents during the contest. Steelers kicker Chris Boswell drilled a 35-yard field goal with 14 seconds left to give his team the final lead, but Pittsburgh got that close on the drive because of costly penalties against Adam Jones and Vontaze Burfict.
Burfict hit wide receiver Antonio Brown as the pass-catcher came across the middle, and Jones lost his temper when Pittsburgh assistant coach Joey Porter came out onto the field while Brown was injured. Smith said “multiple Bengals said after the game that Porter was an instigator in the confrontation that led to the Bengals getting a costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.”
The fines for Porter and Munchak were small consolations for Cincinnati after the loss (Porter was also fined $10,000, per Rapoport), and Sunday’s update was not welcome news for Burfict:
The linebacker was apparently so upset Munchak was no longer fined, he didn’t seem to care that he was possibly risking a fine or suspension himself by speaking out on it publicly:
I really don't care I'm defending my teammate..soo coaches are allowed 2 pull players hair I wish that happened 2 me https://t.co/reXivWZkEp— Vontaze Burfict (@King55Tez) March 14, 2016
Pittsburgh went on to lose to the Denver Broncos in the AFC divisional round, 23-16, so at least Burfict and the Bengals didn’t have to watch the Steelers lift the Lombardi Trophy.