Steelers get worst news as game-winning kick goes through uprights

Pittsburgh Steelers, TJ Watt - Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers, TJ Watt - Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals capped off one of the longest games of Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season with a game-winning kick from Steelers kicker Chris Boswell as time expired in overtime. Almost simultaneously as the kick went through the uprights, Adam Schefter of ESPN tweeted out some dreaded news regarding Steelers superstar defender TJ Watt, one of the best and most disruptive pass rushers in the league.

If you’re the Steelers, it doesn’t get much worse than that. The Steelers were already a team in transition with Mitchell Trubisky taking over for the retired Ben Roethlisberger and Kenny Pickett waiting in the wings. Trubisky finished his first game as the starter of the Steelers completing just over 55 percent of his passes with a touchdown, but the story of this game was not really Trubisky’s efficiency. It was all about the Steelers picking off four Joe Burrow passes and causing havoc in the backfield.

And as usual, TJ Watt was at the center of much of that. Burrow was sacked seven times in the five full quarters these two teams played before all was said and done, and Watt had a sack, a QB hit, and three tackles for loss as well as two passes defensed. In other words, it was another day at the office for the reigning defensive MVP. Watt’s impact on the game was substantial, but a pectoral tear would be a season-ending type of injury in all likelihood and a crippling loss for Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Steelers news: TJ Watt injury paves the way for Alex Highsmith, Malik Reed

Alex Highsmith had himself a timely coming-out party with a whopping three sacks and four QB hits in this game, as well as a pair of tackles for loss. Highsmith will now shoulder a much heavier load for the Steelers in the pass rush department but the team’s trade to acquire former Denver Broncos pass rusher Malik Reed is now looking like an even bigger deal than it did before.

Reed has been essentially a full-time starter for the Broncos over the last three years due to injuries suffered by both Bradley Chubb and Von Miller in that timeframe, so he’ll be no stranger to additional reps when the Steelers make that call.

There’s really no way around it — this is a terrible loss for Pittsburgh, even amidst an impressive season-opening win against the reigning AFC Champions.