The Seahawks methodically marched downfield for what would eventually be a touchdown early in the third quarter of their game against the Steelers on Sunday Night Football. It was unnerving watching the defense, a unit that had shut out Seattle’s offense over the first two quarters, suddenly turn into the proverbial Swiss Cheese.
But what I saw near the end of the drive was even more surreal.
Was it more missed tackles by Pittsburgh’s defenders? No, but they would become a scary sight all throughout the second half. Was it some sort of injury to one of the Steelers’ players? Thankfully, no.
The surreal vision was of linebacker T.J. Watt, the team’s new everything, flailing away at Seahawks running back, Alex Collins, with a series of uppercuts and overhand rights.
Did Collins say something about Watt’s mother? Did the running back spit in Watt’s face? Did Collins take Watt’s own helmet off and hit him in the head with it? As I watched Watt unleash his series of right hands, I said, (and I’m not even joking), “What the bleep are you doing, you idiot!” (Don’t tell Watt I said that.)
Naturally, Watt was penalized 15 yards for a personal foul, but to sort of reiterate what Cris Collinsworth, NBC’s color analyst for Sunday Night Football, said, I was half-expecting the decorated outside linebacker to be arrested for assault.
To hear Watt explain himself after the game, he was just going for the football and trying to rip it out of Collins’ clutches. I can see that, but it’s one thing to employ his usual “chop” tactic, one that’s been highly effective for Watt so far during his career—including at the end of the Seattle game when he chopped the football out of Geno Smith’s possession and saved the night for the Steelers. It’s quite another to go after the football like you’re Rocky Balboa pounding a side of beef while training for your big fight against Apollo Creed.
That’s some major aggression for the $80 million man (guaranteed). Question: is the newly-engaged Watt suddenly dealing with pre-wedding anxiety? I mean, just two weeks earlier, Watt accrued one of his two sacks at Green Bay by tripping Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Watt obviously got away with the trip, and if my memory serves me correctly, I’m pretty sure he also got away with a late hit or two in that game.
Since when is Watt a fine-line or gray-area player? Since when does he push the envelope?
During a recent appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, former Steeler, Ryan Clark, said Watt was a combination of James Harrison and Ryan Shazier. I can certainly see the Harrison comparison when talking about some of Watt’s tactics as of late. You can also throw in a little Joey Porter, Greg Lloyd and Jack Lambert while you’re at it.
Despite what Watt said he was trying to do on the play involving Collins, the officials had no choice but to penalize him. Heck, if a receiver can be penalized for spinning a football after a catch (taunting), a linebacker can be penalized for throwing haymakers at a football.
Watt needs to be careful with his new envelope-pushing demeanor. Speaking of Harrison, he didn’t have the reputation as a fringe player until he did.
Despite his greatness, it wouldn’t surprise me if officials were suddenly more “aware” of Watt during Steelers games moving forward.
If that starts to happen, a decent chunk of Watt’s new contract could be punched from his grips on a regular basis