Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has recently been in the headlines, but not for his play on the field. Throughout this season, he has been dancing on opponents’ logos during pregame warmups. One unwritten rule in the NFL is never to disrespect the opposing team’s logo. Whether it be standing, sitting, warming up, or stomping, teams take offense when their counterparts make a mockery of their emblem.
There was going to be a time where his dance moves were going to come back to bite him. Teams were not going to let Smith-Schuster continue to disrespect their logos. That moment came on Monday Night Football, where he finally paid the price for his actions.
JuJu Smith-Schuster’s history of dancing
It is no secret that Smith-Schuster loves to dance. It has been on display many times during touchdown celebrations, locker room videos, and even commercials. However, it was this season where he began to take his moves to the 50-yard line.
Using the social media app TikTok, Smith-Schuster dances to trendy songs during pregame warmups. This routine has taken place for most of the season, and the rumblings from opposing players have become louder as the season progressed. Smith-Schuster sees it as harmless dancing, but opposing players see it as disrespect and extra motivation.
“Seeing them [Steelers] dancing on our logo pre-game and seeing all that, that turns you up a little bit. It kind of gives you a little second itch to come out and play with some extra fire,” Bills safety Jordan Poyer said per Pro Football Talk. The Bills used that fire to stifle the Steelers, defeating them 26-15 in Week 14. Before their Monday Night Football matchup against Pittsburgh, Bengals safety Von Bell also commented on Smith-Schuster’s pregame routine.
“It’s kind of disrespectful at the end of the day. But they’re on top right now, so you can’t really say nothing right now. We just gotta go out there, between the lines, go out there and hit him and let him know where he stands,” Bell said per Sports Illustrated. He made sure to get his point across early on during the division matchup.
Von Bell delivers crushing hit to JuJu Smith-Schuster
During warmups before their game against the Bengals, Smith-Schuster went through his dance routine like usual. It went viral not only on TikTok but across all social media platforms, given Bell’s comments and the animosity both teams have for each other. Although the moves were impressive, it couldn’t save him from this brutal hit he suffered from Von Bell.
Late in the first quarter, Smith-Schuster ran a short crossing route. After catching the pass, Bell laid a powerful hit on him, forcing a fumble that the Bengals recovered. Cincinnati capitalized on the turnover with a touchdown to take a 10-0 lead. That hit was the highlight of the game, as that shifted the momentum toward the Bengals. It must also have felt great for Bell to deliver on his word and lay a vicious hit on the 24-year old receiver.
Overall, it was a quiet game for Smith-Schuster. He only had three receptions for 15 yards and a fumble lost. This is his fifth game having under 30 yards receiving this season. He, along with the other receivers, couldn’t match the physicality of the Bengals secondary.
The highlight hit-stick by Bell instantly become a social media sensation. Many saw it as a method of payback for Smith-Schuster’s pregame antics. The physical play continued for the Bengals, as they pulled off the upset win 27-17. After the game, a video surfaced on Twitter of Joe Mixon riding through downtown Cincinnati, playing the song Smith-Schuster was dancing to during pregame warmups.
Pittsburgh Steelers are in a downward spiral
The hit JuJu Smith-Schuster suffered could sum up how the past three weeks have gone for the Pittsburgh Steelers. After an impressive 11-0 start, they have dropped their last three games. The most glaring issue for the Steelers is how their offense has dropped off in terms of production.
During their three-game skid, Pittsburgh’s offense has been inept. They have scored 16 points per game during that stretch. Before the losing streak, they have averaged 28.8 points a game. Their running game has been nonexistent behind an offensive line lacking the grit and toughness that has been associated with the Steelers for years.
The Steelers have lost the big plays in their passing game that made them such a dominant offense early in the season. That was evident Monday night against the Cincinnati, as their safeties played closer to the line of scrimmage, daring Pittsburgh to beat them deep. That brutal hit Smith-Schuster sustained was due to Bell knowing the Steelers would play the short passing game.
The Steelers aren’t helping the issues they have offensively with their drops. They have 27 drops this season, tied with the Cowboys for the most in the league per NBC Sports. The number of drops has increased during their slide, which means a lack of focus that can’t be acceptable come playoff time.
The loss in primetime was terrible, but getting laid out in the process is worse. Juju Smith-Schuster might want to rethink his pregame routine, or he could be seeing more intense hits coming his way.