Antonio Brown Likely Out vs. Broncos After Hit from Vontaze Burfict, Who’s Suspended 3 Games

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty)

Everyone would have been a lot better off with Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict off the field for crunch time of his team's Saturday-night loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The fourth-year pro has been suspended for the first three games of the 2016 season after his vicious hit on Steelers wideout Antonio Brown near the end of Saturday's AFC wild card game.

NFL vice president of football operations Merton Hanks, who handles personnel discipline for the league, ruled that Burfict's actions "placed his opponent at unnecessary risk of injury and should have been avoided."

The play contributed to a game-winning drive by the Steelers that resulted in a field goal and a one-point victory.

But it also thrust into serious doubt All-Pro receiver Brown's prospects of playing the Denver Broncos in the AFC divisional round.

Adam "Pacman" Jones, whose pass interference penalty on the following play set up the final field goal, accused Brown of faking his injury.

"Man, Antonio Brown was not hurt," Jones said on Monday. "I know he was faking it. Go back and look at the play. If you go back and slow-motion the play, you tell me that Vontaze [Burfict] hit him in the head. Or did his shoulder pad barely touch him?"

Brown is currently in the NFL's concussion protocol and his participation in Sunday's game is unlikely.

The Steelers believe quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sprained the AC joint in his right shoulder. He regards himself as day-to-day.