Report: Bengals’ Burfict says he must change way he plays

In his first public comments since his crucial late-game penalty in the playoffs and the NFL’s announcement of his three-game suspension, Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict told ESPN that he has to change the way he plays.

Burfict talked with ESPN’s Josina Anderson on Monday about the unnecessary roughness penalty called on him for his hit to the head on Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown in an 18-16 loss in the AFC Wild Card game Jan. 9.

Burfict told Anderson he takes responsibility for the hit.

“I play hard. Sometimes it gets me in trouble,” he said to ESPN. “My style of play is aggressive, and (the game has) changed, and I have to change with it, and that play right there, I think if I wasn’t number 55, I wouldn’t have got flagged.”

The NFL suspended Burfict for “repeated violations of safety-related playing rules.”

Burfict’s three-game suspension is the longest the NFL has issued for on-field transgressions since 2006, when Tennessee’s Albert Haynesworth received five games for stomping on the head of Dallas center Andre Gurode.

Burfict’s penalty against Brown moved the Steelers into field goal range and was followed by an unsportsmanlike penalty against cornerback Adam Jones.

The two flags moved the Steelers from the Cincinnati 47 to the 17, where kicker Chris Boswell made a 35-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining to lift the Steelers to the two-point win and send the Bengals to their fifth straight first-round playoff loss.

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