Steelers' Mike Mitchell defends Bengals safety George Iloka for his hit on Antonio Brown

The Pittsburgh Steelers-Cincinnati Bengals rivalry has quickly become one of the most heated in the NFL. There were numerous brutal hits on Monday night, from both sides, and that’s not the first time that has happened when these two teams play.

The nasty play on Monday night led to two one-game suspensions. Pittsburgh receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was suspended for a hit on Vontaze Burfict and his subsequent taunting, and Cincinnati safety George Iloka was suspended for hitting Antonio Brown in the head.

Although the two teams are fierce rivals, veteran Steelers safety Mike Mitchell ended up defending his counterpart on the Bengals. He said Iloka should not have been suspended for the hit on Brown.

Mitchell biggest complaint was with the NFL’s method of discipline and its inconsistency. He referenced New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski’s hit on Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious WHite, when he hit White in the head long after the play was over. Gronkowski got a one-game suspension, and MItchell thought that was unfair considering Smith-Schuster and Iloka got the same punishments for hits made during plays (in the tweets, “87” is Gronkowski, “19” is Smith-Schuster and “43” is Iloka).

The players will have a chance to change some things in the CBA when it’s up in a few years, and Mitchell punctuated his tweets with another that said, “let’s do better next time. Save your money.”

While the possibility of the players banding together to strike is story for another day, the perceived inconsistency in NFL player discipline is a hot topic this week. The NFL wants to clean up the game, and there have been many ugly incidents in recent weeks. The Steelers-Bengals game was perhaps the ugliest, and on a “Monday Night Football” stage. It wasn’t surprising when the league came down hard on two of the more egregious illegal hits.

But not all players agree with the decisions. When a Steelers player came to the defense of a Bengals player on Tuesday, you know there’s some issue with the way the NFL handles player discipline.

Pittsburgh safety Mike Mitchell didn’t think Bengals safety George Iloka should have been suspended for a hit on Steelers receiver Antonio Brown. (AP)

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!