By Aaron Wilson
The Baltimore Sun
8:00 AM EST, December 31, 2012
Cincinnati Bengals rookie middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict displayed a knack for annoying the Ravens' offensive players, getting under their skin at least twice Sunday.
During a 23-17 loss for the AFC North champion Ravens, the brash former undrafted free agent got into a pair of altercations with offensive guard Bobbie Williams and running back Ray Rice. In each incident, the retaliating Raven was assessed a personal foul.
First, Rice roughly shoved Burfict to the ground in the first quarter following a chop block for an unnecessary roughness infraction. Rice said that Burfict was talking a lot of trash to him.
"I told him he'll be a great player if he didn't talk so much," Rice said. "I got a personal foul messing with him. I don't know if it was that personal. I cut him and went back and I finished him off. He's going to be a good player. He's feisty, that's what I told him. You see a young guy like that and talent will only take you so far."
Burfict, who went undrafted out of Arizona State because of conditioning, maturity and off-field issues and a disastrous NFL scouting combine, has now become the Bengals' leading tackler and had a game-high 18 tackles Sunday. He gloated about what happened after Sunday's game.
"He chopped me," Burfict said of Rice. "I don't know what he tried to do, but he tried to take a cheap shot. That's football. At the end of the day, he got a personal foul and I didn't. Big man wins. The old Vontaze would have did exactly what he did, talked a little [stuff] and then walked off."
Williams responded to Burfict in the second quarter, reacting angrily to draw an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Williams said that Burfict kicked him, causing him to lose his temper.
"He's just a young pup out there," Williams said. "Hey, it's football. He gave me a kick, it is what it is."