The Pittsburgh Steelers relied heavily on their defense to carry them vs the Bengals, but the injuries could be a major blow to the season.
Fans were no doubt thrilled with how things were going in the first half for the Pittsburgh Steelers. After getting swept by the Bengals and being outscored 65-20 in 2021, Mike Tomlin’s defense was on fire in the season-opener at Cincinnati.
It began with getting quarterback Joe Burrow uncomfortable. In the first half, Burrow threw three interceptions and couldn’t come up with any big plays in the passing game. By the end of the first half, the Steelers held a 17-3 lead that included a defensive score by Minkah Fitzpatrick.
While fans were pumped up with the results early, the wind was taken from our sails in the second half as Cincinnati fought back in the game. Pittsburgh’s offense stalled drive after drive, and with time running out in regulation, the Bengals scored. They would have won the game if not for a clutch, blocked PAT by Fitzpatrick (who had a monster game).
This sent the game to overtime. Both teams had a chance to close out the game. On the Bengals’ second possession of OT, Pittsburgh forced a punt. Eventually, a huge play from Mitch Trubisky to Pat Freiermuth put the Steelers in field goal range, and after doinking one off the uprights in OT, Chris Boswell would not miss this time around. The Steelers won in the closing seconds of overtime with a final score of 23-20.
Steelers win wasn’t worth the losses
While this game was nerve-racking down to the very final seconds and Pittsburgh pulled off the upset win over a divisional opponent, this hardly feels like a victory. During the contest, the Steelers lost Najee Harris, Mason Cole, and Cameron Heyward. However, the biggest and most concerning injury came in the fourth quarter when T.J. Watt left the game.
After getting flagged for illegal hands to the face when sacking Burrow, Watt was slow getting up and jogged off the field with his left arm drooping. It was later confirmed that the Steelers star had suffered a pectoral injury and was ruled out.
This is incredibly depressing. While the extent of the injury isn’t known at this time, a torn pec would likely force Watt to miss the remainder of the 2022 season before it really even got started. Losing the reigning Defensive Player of the Year takes the wind right out of our sails and it’s hard to be optimistic about this team’s chances this year without our best player.
If this is the case, it’s incredibly unfortunate for T.J. Watt and the career pace he was on as a future Hall of Famer. Let’s just pray that we hear some good news regarding Pittsburgh’s injuries. It was nice to escape Cincinnati with a huge road, but the victory isn’t worth the cost they paid.