JuJu Smith-Schuster has quickly become one of Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite targets this season, as the rookie receiver from USC had caught 37 passes for 585 yards and five touchdowns entering Pittsburgh’s matchup with the Patriots on Sunday afternoon.
On Sunday, Smith-Schuster had a solid first half, but still managed to get in on the touchdown celebration business after a Martavis Bryant touchdown reception at the very end of the second quarter. After Bryant hauled in the one-handed touchdown, he and Smith-Schuster celebrated by reenacting the hit and taunt of Vontaze Burfict that earned him a suspension earlier this season.
The Steelers have had fun reenacting incidents in the end zone this season before, as the receiving corps brought back the A.J. Green-Jalen Ramsey fight the week after it happened, but this one seems like a misstep in reading the room. The league won’t be pleased, although their hands may be tied in terms of giving them any kind of punishment (don’t be surprised if the rule gets rewritten next year to give the NFL leeway to fine players for something like this), but in this era of consciousness about player safety, making fun of a helmet-to-helmet hit might not be the best idea.
The Steelers love to troll the Bengals, but this one seems like a step too far. Launching, helmet-to-helmet hits are something the league wants to (and needs to) get out of the game, and I’m sure they weren’t thrilled about this after handing Smith-Schuster a suspension last week.