CINCINNATI -- Bengals receiver Marvin Jones called Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell "fake tough" Monday for celebrating a hard hit he delivered on Jones in Sunday's game between the AFC North rivals, and then chirping about it in A.J. Green's face moments later.
"When you turn on the film, you don't see him hitting anybody when they're going head up. That's fake tough," Jones said to ESPN, one day after Mitchell hit him going across the middle to break up a pass. "It's whatever. He hit me. I just got the wind knocked out of me, and it's OK. It’s whatever. When guys get all hyped off minor stuff like that, hitting somebody that's not even looking, that's fake tough to me."
After getting Jones on the ground, Mitchell pushed the receiver down as he got up and then high-stepped as he walked away in celebration. But Mitchell didn't stop there.
For two plays after he slammed Jones with a violent but perfectly legal hit into the receiver’s midsection, cameras caught the defensive back yelling at Green. At one point in that same span, Mitchell was even flagged for taunting when his helmet made contact with Green's as he screamed at the Pro Bowl wide out.
What was he saying?
According to Green: "You're next."
"It just woke me up," Green told reporters after the game. "Thank him for that."
Green later ended up catching the go-ahead touchdown pass from Andy Dalton that powered the Bengals to a 16-10 win and their first 7-0 start in franchise history. Five plays before that reception, Mitchell was run from the game with a head injury he received trying to tackle Bengals running back Giovani Bernard after a 23-yard reception off an improvised flip pass from Dalton.
"He can be happy all he wants but he got [his] in the end," said Jones, who got up quickly after having his wind knocked out. He returned to the game on the same drive.
The hit on Jones was one of many gasp-worthy tackles doled out in the physical contest. Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict brought down Steelers rusher Le'Veon Bell just before Mitchell's hit with a tackle that ended Bell's season. As Bell was going down, his right leg ended up underneath his body. It resulted in what ESPN's Adam Schefter reported was a significant right MCL tear.
Steelers guard Ramon Foster took exception to the way Burfict got up and sprinted some 30 yards to celebrate his tackle with a Bengals corner while Bell was on the field clutching his knee.
"He's that type of guy," Foster said. "That type of guy will get his sooner or later. … If you've played against him, you know what I mean by it. He'll play it off, act dumb about it, but you don't run across the field acting hyped, celebrating, running up and down when a guy goes down like that."
Jones had no thoughts to share on Burfict's situation, but the game's physicality and aggressive tone didn't faze him.
"It's football. Hits are going to come," Jones said. "That was the first time that I ever got hit like that. … [Mitchell] could be all rah-rah, it's whatever. But he's not a hitter."
Jones said he has seen video of the hit on him and the subsequent celebration.
"I'm not hurting right now," he said. "Nothing hurts, nothing's sore."
Jones finished with two catches for 12 yards, while Mitchell had five tackles and an interception before his fourth-quarter injury.