Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster's one-game suspension was upheld Tuesday evening.
The suspension was levied for a blindside block Smith-Schuster unleashed on Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict in Monday's 23-20 Steelers' win. The USC product was penalized for the hit and issued another flag for standing over Burfict and taunting him.
NFL vice president of football communications Michael Signora provided a league statement Tuesday noting Smith-Schuster and Bengals defensive back George Iloka—who hit wide receiver Antonio Brown helmet-to-helmet in the end zone—were each suspended one game:
Michael Signora @NFLfootballinfo
JuJu Smith-Schuster & George Iloka have each been suspended 1 game for violations of safety-related playing rules. https://t.co/OyDq7Ca4jy2017-12-5 18:46:47
"I was just playing to the whistle," Smith-Schuster said, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. "I didn't mean to stand over him. I was trying to get a big block for Le'Veon Bell for him to get upfield. The unsportsmanlike conduct is not me. I shouldn't have done that. I hope he's OK and I hope he gets better."
The Bengals announced Burfict would not return after the fourth-quarter block because of a head injury.
That Burfict was involved made it more notable considering his history with the Steelers. The linebacker was suspended for the first three games of the 2016 campaign after he brutally hit wide receiver Antonio Brown's head during a playoff contest, which left the playmaker concussed.
As Fowler shared, Brown shouted "karma" as Smith-Schuster spoke with reporters after Monday's contest:
Jeremy Fowler @JFowlerESPN
As JuJu Smith-Schuster describes his block on Vontaze Burfict, Antonio Brown keeps yelling ‘Karma.' https://t.co/rX6COmuxoE2017-12-5 07:10:55
Smith-Schuster will miss Pittsburgh's upcoming contest against the Baltimore Ravens as it attempts to clinch the AFC North with a victory. The Steelers will miss the USC product and his 585 receiving yards and five touchdown catches, but they still have Brown, Martavis Bryant, Eli Rogers and Darrius Heyward-Bey to carry the load at wide receiver.