Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict has been fined nearly $70,000 for a series of controversial hits during the Bengals’ 33-20 loss to the Steelers this past Sunday, a game in which Andy Dalton broke his thumb after throwing an interception.
Burfict might not be the most beloved player in Pittsburgh these days, but you have to admit: Steelers/Bengals has become quite the rivalry.
“I think it’s good for football,” Bart Scott said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “It’s a rivalry. It’s becoming a rivalry. It used to be big brother beating up on little brother, but I think the Bengals have made that step, especially under Andy Dalton, of not being that easy win that you used to have. For the last five years, they’ve been very competitive. That’s when it’s game on. It’s good for football to me.”
The Bengals (10-3), even without Dalton, are still favored to win the AFC North, especially with a two-game lead over Pittsburgh (8-5). Still, Cincinnati will need AJ McCarron to be at his best this Sunday in San Francisco.
The Alabama product had his moments in relief of Dalton this past Sunday, throwing for 280 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Scott, however, didn’t like McCarron’s post-game comparison to Tom Brady, who got his opportunity following an injury to Drew Bledsoe.
We all know what happened after that.
“It’s just a bad analogy,” Scott said. “I think it would have been better to say, ‘I’m T.J. Yates.’ That was probably a better analogy for him. If I’m a teammate, listen, man, no T-words today.”
Scott said the key for the Bengals this Sunday is moving the sticks with Jeremy Hill and setting up play-action. The Bengals will need big games from their pass-catchers, including Gio Bernard, as tight end Tyler Eifert (concussion) likely won’t be available.
“Hue Jackson is going to have to develop some schemes and some plays that are to (McCarron’s) strengths,” Scott said. “I don’t know what type of player he is, but they know what he has a real grasp of and the concepts he has a grasp of. They have to play solid defense and special teams.”
The 49ers, meanwhile, have had a rough season but must be salivating over the prospect of facing a rookie quarterback making his first career start.
“It’s all about trickeration,” Scott said, speaking from experience. “Smoke and mirrors. It’s fooling him with trickery before he even knows he’s in a fight. So I’m changing my fronts. It’s all about the safeties. Quarterbacks are always taught to read the safeties. You play around with the safeties. You move after the snap of the ball, and you keep changing your front so they can’t identify (blitzes and coverages). That’s when zone blitzes really come into effect. You drop a defensive lineman, blitz the safety from the side – there’s nothing like hitting the quarterback in the back of the head when he don’t (see you coming).
“Oh man,” Scott continued. “I just got excited.”