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JuJu Smith-Schuster, George Iloka suspended 1 game

Monday night's Steelers-Bengals matchup featured several brutal hits, two of which brought down the suspension hammer from the NFL on Tuesday.

The league suspended Pittsburgh receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and Cincinnati safety George Iloka each for one game without pay for violations of safety-related playing rules.

Both players appealed the ban, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported. League spokesman Michael Signora announced late Tuesday evening that Smith-Schuster's suspension was upheld by appeals officer James Thrash. Iloka's appeal is still pending.

NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan handed down the punishments.

Smith-Schuster took out Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict on a devastating crackback block and was flagged for taunting after the play. In a letter to the rookie receiver, Runyan made it clear the taunt played a role in the suspension.

"You are suspended for the dangerous and unsportsmanlike acts you committed during the fourth quarter of last night's game," Runyan wrote. "Specifically, with 7:10 remaining, on a passing play to a running back, you lined up a defender and delivered a violent and unnecessary blindside shot to his head and neck area. You then 'celebrated' the play by standing over him and taunting him. The contact you made with your opponent placed the opposing player at risk of serious injury and could have been avoided. Your conduct following the hit fell far below the high standards of sportsmanship expected of an NFL player."

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday the taunting bothered him more than the illegal hit. Smith-Schuster tweeted an apology after Monday's win.

Iloka was flagged for an illegal hit to the helmet of Steelers receiver Antonio Brown on a game-tying touchdown catch.

"On a play which began with 3:55 left in the game, you violently struck a defenseless receiver in the head and neck area," Runyan wrote to Iloka. "The Competition Committee has clearly expressed its goal of 'eliminating flagrant hits that have no place in our game' and has encouraged the league office to suspend offenders for egregious violations such as the one you committed last night."

According to NFL Research, the Steelers-Bengals Monday night matchup produced seven "extracurricular" penalties, the most in a game this season -- includes combined unsportsmanlike conduct, unnecessary roughness, roughing the passer, and taunting penalties.

Smith-Schuster will miss a Week 14 tilt versus division rival Baltimore Ravens. Iloka is set to sit out against the Chicago Bears.

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