With most of this new 22-23 season already underway, there was no special interest in the Steelers vs Bengals game. But that quickly changed after the opening kickoff and a powerful first drive of defense from the Steelers, which was led by reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt.
Throughout the entire game, Watt played with passion and a new level of intensity that the Bengals weren’t ready for with an interception and 6 total combined sacks before he had to be carted off the field. At that time in the game, all head coach Mike Tomlin said after the game was that Watt had an upper-body injury but after more reports and an evaluation by the team physician Dr. James Bradly revealed that he had torn his left peck while trying to tackle and strip the ball from Bengels QB Joe Burrow. After the game, former Steelers QB and future Hall Of Famer Ben Roethlisberger had to say About TJ Watt, “He changes the game. I kind of teased him. I was like, ‘You just didn’t want them to hand you the Defensive Player of the Year award after Week 1?’ Because that’s what was happening.”
In addition to Watts’s unfortunate injury, the Steeler’s first pick of the 2021 draft Najee Harris was also injured during the game. He was running the football as he normally would but then snapped his left foot while trying to run out the game clock so they wouldn’t have to deal with another defensive drive. He also left in the late fourth quarter with a heavily wrapped and bandaged foot, but according to many news outlets and sources, Najee will be back and playing The Patriots this week.
Thankfully, the Steelers came out on top of the game with a hard-fought and challenging victory. Junior Jacob Hanny had to say this about the game, “It was a good and entertaining game with many stressful parts.” It was a close game throughout all 4 quarters, with many twists and turns, especially with the special team plays. Starting kicker Chris Boswell for the Steelers saved the win in the last play of overtime to win 23-20, he was 3 for 4 on his field goals and helped the Steelers win week one. On the other side of the ball, Bengals kicker Evan McPherson was pivotal at the end of the game going 2 for 3 on his field goals, while the third kick was blocked by the Steeler’s Defense.”We’ve got to do a better job of protecting the football all around. It’s kind of been our Achilles heel in a lot of our losses. They’ve all happened in different ways, and today that’s just the way that it happened. But we know that’s unacceptable and we’ve got to be better taking care of the football, period.” said Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor who has been with the organization for 3 years.
In the post-game conference head coach, Mike Tomlin had to say, “I’m not surprised by the fight they gave I knew they would fight, I found comfort in that. I wasn’t looking for comfort but I found comfort in that just and I’ve just seen enough of that during team devolvement. Obviously, that was a hard-fought game on both sides and it is always when you’re in the AFC North, it’s good to come down here and get it done today and we’ll learn from these lessons man, and get ready for the next AFC game and again just appreciative the efforts they gave if it wasn’t for the cost.” The Steelers will play the New England Patriots Sunday, September 18th at 1 pm.