The Bengals were called for a key unnecessary roughness penalty in overtime against the Broncos Monday night, and Vontaze Burfict believes the flag was only thrown because NFL officials have it out for him.
The call came near the start of overtime, when Burfict made contact with Denver tight end Virgil Green and tried to strip the ball. As ESPN’s Coley Harvey describes it, Burfict desperately tried to strip Green until he realized he had to make the tackle, and Green was going out of the field of play by the time Burfict initiated it.
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Then came the flag.
“The refs, they obviously have it out for me, but you can’t call a bulls— flag like that at the end of the game,” Burfict said. “He looked at my number and then threw it.
“The refs were late to blow whistles all night, and they threw the flag late. Once the dude [Green] flopped, the ref looked at me and seen it was my number and then threw the flag. I can’t control that. Just keep playing football.”
According to Burfict, referee Ed Hochuli admitted he threw the flag because Green said the linebacker hit him late.
“I said, ‘Ed, what happened? No whistles were blown?’” Burfict explained. “He was like, ‘Yeah, no whistles were blown, but he said you hit him late.’ I said, ‘What?’ and just went on about it.”
The 15-yard penalty gave the Broncos a first down at the Cincinnati 41. Denver eventually kicked a 37-yard field goal to give them the lead and the Bengals sealed their fate by fumbling on their ensuing possession.
In Burfict’s defense, that really didn’t look like much. But he’s probably right about officials watching him more closely than other players. When you have a reputation for throwing cheap shots like this, it eventually catches up to you.