What was expected to be a chippy game nearly exploded late in the third quarter when Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier laid a big hit on Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard. Bernard caught a pass in the flat and Shazier took him down with a helmet-to-helmet hit. Bernard was put in concussion protocol and ruled out for the game.
Referees didn't throw a flag, however, much to the chagrin of Bengals players and fans. As the crowd rained boos, Bengals running back Jeremy Hill got in the face of several Steelers players.
Referees and coaches had to spend several minutes trying to calm tensions. On the first play after the altercation, debris was thrown into the end zone from the stands. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was injured on the next possession, and as he was carted off the field he was pelted with trash.
Ben Roethlisberger being carted off with might be a serious injury while projectiles are thrown at him. Ugly scene in Cincy— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 10, 2016
As many feared before game time, Saturday's game is in danger of spiraling out of control.
Update: Early Monday, Shazier tweeted at Bernard and promised that he wasn't trying to injure the running back:
Shazier and Bernard are both Florida natives.