Vontaze Burfict latest ejected, Bengals lose 24-20 to Titans
By TERESA M. WALKER, AP Pro Football Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Vontaze Burfict pleaded his case to Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis. Then the linebacker who has been among the NFL’s most suspended and penalized players finally headed to the locker room.
Burfict talked with some fans, raised both arms over his head and even jumped to high-five a fan at the tunnel.
Another week, another Cincinnati player ejected. This time in a game where the Bengals scratched three defensive starters before kickoff with Burfict’s ejection for pushing an official’s arm making it four. Add two turnovers and 12 penalties for 84 yards, the Bengals lost 24-20 to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday in a loss they can blame on a lack of discipline.
“Not getting a ‘W’ really hurts,” Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green said. “We’ve got to continue to get better. You can’t have these penalties. You can’t turn the ball over. I know I sound like a broken record, but you can’t win like that.”
Lewis said curtly that the Bengals can’t have those penalties when asked about his frustration at the penalties and having a player ejected for a second straight game.
“We didn’t do a good enough job of getting separation from them and we’re getting calls and they’re draped on us, so just look at it,” Lewis said. “We’ve got to do better. We knew how they were going to play.”
Burfict’s ejection hurt an already depleted defense. The Bengals (3-6) deactivated tackle Pat Sims, linebacker Kevin Minter and safety Shawn Williams. Burfict slid over and started in Minter’s spot. The Bengals lost cornerback Adam Jones midway through the third quarter to a concussion.
Green was the Cincinnati player ejected last week in a loss at Jacksonville after he grabbed Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey around the neck and threw punches. The NFL fined Green $42,541 for that incident, and Green said that was probably one of the worst times of his life.
“It’s tough on him (Burfict) being one of our best players and getting thrown out of a game is not a great feeling,” Green said. “You hurt your team. I did it last week, and I regret it. I’m embarrassed with what I did last week, but you can’t lose your cool. … He’s going to be fine and he’ll be back next week.”
The difference between Green and Burfict is when the linebacker pushed judge Jeff Bergman’s left arm on the sideline Sunday that this wasn’t the first time Burfict has gotten into trouble .
The Bengals linebacker has been among NFL’s most suspended and most frequently fined players. He started this season with a three-game suspension for a hit during the preseason. He also had a history of personal fouls at Arizona State that factored into every NFL team passing on him in the 2012 draft.
Lewis, who is in the final year of his current contract , said Burfict has to understand that he can’t just push back.
“Sometimes what happens is you push back and you touch an official,” Lewis said. “You can’t do that. He knows better and we pay a price. We pay a price because it hurts us when it’s on the field that way and then he’s not on the field.”
Burfict did not talk to reporters after the game.
The Bengals wound up being outgained 416-308, and a defense that had been the NFL’s stingiest against touchdowns inside its own 20 gave up three touchdowns to Tennessee (6-3) on three trips.
Cincinnati has lost three of four with a trip next to Denver.
Bengals linebacker Carl Lawson called it frustrating and that they need to control the little things. He’s not sure how to fix those issues.
“We’ve obviously got the talent, but talent doesn’t win games,” Lawson said.
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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker