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Cincinnati Bengals Stumble In Playoff Game


In other football action, last night, the NFL witnessed one of the greatest collapses in playoff history. We're talking about the Cincinnati Bengals, a team with a long history of woe, but last night may be a new low. They had all but sealed up a win against their rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Just one minute, 36 seconds left in the game, and they had the ball. They could not lose, but they did in spectacular fashion. And not only that - critics are calling the whole thing a new low in a sportsmanship. Tracy Wolfson of CBS Sports was on the sidelines for that game, and she's on the line now. Hi, Tracy. Thanks for joining us.

TRACY WOLFSON: You got it. How are you?

MARTIN: Good. And do you want to take it from there?

WOLFSON: (Laughter) Yeah. You know what? It was pretty insane. I've got to be honest. I mean, we knew that there would be some sort of physicality and a lot of emotions brewing with a rivalry like this. But, you know, to be honest, I didn't expect it to get to that level. The fumble by Jeremy Hill, then the personal fouls, then the helmet-to-helmet hit from Vontaze Burfict and - you know, like you said, next thing you know, that's it. You know, they handed over to the Steelers.

MARTIN: Talk about that hit, please. That's the thing that a lot of people are talking about today. And certainly, the commentators after the game were talking about where Burfict launched himself into the head of Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown. I mean, what was that like to be there when that happened? I know people at home were gasping.

WOLFSON: Yeah, you know, it - there were so much chaos going on at that time to begin with, and, yes, it was a gasp. You see the hit. And especially when you see a hit to the head like that of that magnitude, it comes from a guy like Vontaze Burfict, where you know he makes those vicious hits to begin with. He has knocked out several players. And not saying that they were not legal hits in the past, but he has been fined for hits in the past. You know, and that's where you have to draw the line - I mean, those helmet-to-helmet hits. But it is a scary, scary situation down there when that takes place.

MARTIN: You know, speaking of that, during the pregame warm-ups, the referees basically formed a wall at the 50-yard line...


MARTIN: ...To prevent the teams on either side from starting fights with each other. And then a few weeks ago, New York Giants fans watched as their star receiver Odell Beckham lost his mind, committed one penalty after another against Carolina Panthers' defensive back Josh Norman. Look, is there something going on here with people being unable to control their behavior on the field? Is something going - is there something in the atmosphere now that we need to be thinking about?

WOLFSON: I don't know if it's something in the atmosphere. I mean, sports in general bring out those kind of emotions. It's about controlling the emotions. It's about having the right people on the field to control their emotions if that person or player cannot handle their emotions themselves. I thought what the officials did yesterday by creating that no-fly zone - I thought was very smart. I actually thought that the officials did a good job for the situation that they were put in. But I will say that I think I believe there should be a rule more so like in college where - you know, two personal fouls, and you're out. Or - you know, that's where the officials maybe need to step in more. Or a coach should step in and say, this is going to hurt our team. It was very obvious, and I reported it during the game that Vontaze Burfict was out of control. And it was just going to escalate. You could see it in his eyes, and you could see it standing down there. And every one of his teammates could see it and so could the officials. And still he was allowed to continue to play throughout and thus, in the end, basically loses the game for his team.

MARTIN: Tracy Wolfson reports for CBS Sports. Tracy, thanks so much for speaking with us.

WOLFSON: You got it, Michel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.

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