Maybe I was just being unrealistic, delusional, entitled, etc., but I kind of expected more than what I saw from the Steelers when they took on the Seahawks at Heinz Field on Sunday Night Football.
With Russell Wilson out with a finger injury, Geno Smith got the start at quarterback for Seattle. That’s an advantage for the defense, right?
With the Seahawks coming into the game with the worst defense in the NFL, at least statistically, that should have been an advantage for the Steelers offense, even with the unit’s horrific struggles over the first five games...right?
Things didn’t quite unfold as I hoped, and it was apparent right from the start, especially on offense, where Ben Roethlisberger and Co. failed to do much over the first quarter or so. Thankfully, the defense did its part early on and helped to force yet another punt-fest at Heinz Field.
The Steelers did mount two impressive drives to close out the second quarter—drives that resulted in actual touchdowns and everything—and took a 14-0 lead into halftime.
From there, it was just a matter of knocking the rest of the stuffing out of those seabirds and calling it a night, right?
Someone forgot to mention this to the Steelers defense, but maybe that’s because it was mostly being propped up by four players—T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward, Alex Highsmith and, yes, rookie Tre Norwood, who has yet to meet a moment that’s too big for him.
As for the rest of the defense? It played most of the second half as if the moment was a new shirt bought by an aunt who lives out of town and is clueless about kids’ sizes—in other words, way too big. I’m talking about missed tackles, missed tackles and more missed tackles.
Ultimately, a 14-0 halftime lead turned into a 17-17 tie by the fourth quarter. It may not have gotten to that point had Roethlisberger and the rest of the Steelers’ offense been able to build on the end of the second quarter.
Instead, Matt Canada’s unit seemed intent on building on its first four games when yards and points were mere theories more than anything.
Fortunately, the offense did manage a scoring drive near the end of the fourth quarter, one that resulted in a 52-yard field goal by Chris “What the Heck Was I Smoking in 2018?” Boswell to give Pittsburgh a 20-17 lead with just 1:30 left in regulation.
This was when the defense stepped up and snuffed out Seattle’s last chance, right? The defense stepped in something, but it wasn’t success, I can tell you that. Smith almost effortlessly orchestrated a drive that took his offense from his 25 to their 25 in about 80 seconds.
Sure, there was that weird replay thing where a catch by D.K. Metcalf was reviewed for some reason, but this all happened after Smith had clearly spiked the football with one second left in regulation. Why was head coach Mike Tomlin so incensed? What advantage did this give Seattle’s kicker, Jason Myers, as he prepared to attempt a 43-yard field goal on the final play of the fourth quarter? Was Tomlin upset that the kicker had too much time to get ready? Aren’t coaches always calling timeouts in that situation in an effort to ice the kicker? It isn’t as if Myers and the rest of Seattle’s special teamers would have had to frantically sprint out and attempt the kick against a running game clock. Again, Smith had clearly spiked the ball with one second left.
Anyway, Myers kick was true, and I can’t speak for anyone else, but I had a bad, bad feeling after Seattle won the toss in overtime.
But here were Seattle’s final two offensive plays in extra time: Third and four from the Pittsburgh 45: 13-yard sack by Watt. (Punt.) First and 10 from the Seattle 15: Watt strip-sack, recovered by Devin Bush. (Steelers ball at the Seattle 16.)
From there, it was just a matter of Boswell not pulling a 2018 while attempting a 37-yard game-winning field goal (he didn’t).
Watt had almost single-handedly rescued the Steelers from the jaws of defeat and secured a 23-20 victory.
As they head into their bye with a 3-3 record, where do the Steelers go from here?
That remains unclear, but T.J. Watt likely saved us all from two weeks of Joe Haden trade talk, that’s for sure.
That man is worth every penny.