The Pittsburgh Steelers have many things to assess after their overtime win vs the Bengals. How do they move forward without T.J. Watt?
The Steelers shocked the nation with a nail-biter overtime win against the AFC North Champions. Sadly, upsetting the Cincinnati Bengals on the road in Week 1 didn’t come without significant cost. Fans have to be pleased with stealing a huge win early in the season in a game that every expert at NFL Network expected them to lose, but they could have much bigger fish to fry after the injuries they suffered.
Mike Tomlin and his coaching staff are going to have a lot to digest after this one, but the injuries to some major players are looking about as encouraging as Pittsburgh’s offense in their first game of 2022. Here are my biggest takeaways from Steelers 23-20 overtime win vs the Bengals:
T.J. Watt’s injury could be devastating to Steelers chances
This one took the wind right out of my sails. As soon as I saw T.J. Watt wincing to the sidelines hanging his left arm, I was worried that this might be a pectoral injury. My fears were confirmed. While we don’t know the extent of Watt’s injury at this point, a torn pec could prove to claim his 2022 season before it even gets started. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year was having a monster game prior to the injury and this could be the worst blow imaginable for the Steelers this year.
Other Steelers injuries could play a factor
Watt wasn’t the only Steeler injured in the win. Starting center, Mason Cole, went down early in the contest and was replaced by J.C. Hassenauser. Things got much worse late in the contest. In addition to losing Watt, Najee Harris was writhing in pain after his leg got twisted underneath him and Cameron Heyward left the game after getting up slowly. Levi Wallace also left with an ankle injury. The injury report is sure to be lengthy this week and we are hoping for some encouraging news.
Steelers defense was thoroughly impressive
There was no denying that Pittsburgh’s defense was spectacular in this contest. From the gate, the secondary made it tough for Joe Burrow to get comfortable. The Bengals QB had 4 interceptions on the afternoon. The defense was also able to provide consistent pressure as they tallied a whopping 7 sacks (Alex Highsmith was responsible for 3 of them). The Steelers showed a ton of promise on defense, but losing Watt could be detrimental.
The offense was incredibly stagnant
The entire offense struggled mightily in this contest. I was optimistic that this wouldn’t be the case, but Pittsburgh was annihilated in time of possession as they struggled to run the football and pick up first downs through the air. The offense will be the Achilles heel of this team in 2022.
Mitch Trubisky might be on a short leash
I wanted to come away from the season-opener impressed with the play of the offense. That certainly did not happen. Mitch Trubisky technically did enough to win the game, but nothing more. The Steelers QB averaged a dismal 5.1 yards per attempt despite decent protection in front of him for most of the game. Even being +5 in the turnover department, the Steelers nearly lost. Mitch Trubisky should be on a short leash if this offense doesn’t improve fast.