CINCINNATI (AP) — The Steelers defense began the season Sunday looking like a vulturous force, and reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt was the chief disruptor.
Then Watt walked off injured in the fourth quarter. Now, it’s unclear when Pittsburgh might look so fearsome again.
Watt suffered a pectoral injury in the fourth quarter of a 23-20 overtime win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
The Steelers didn’t provide many details on Watt’s status after the game. Coach Mike Tomlin said only that “T.J. has been evaluated with an upper-body injury.”
“I’m not going to speculate what’s going and how bad the injury is,” defensive tackle Cam Heyward said. “But you know having T.J. out there definitely benefits us. He’s a leader. He’s a defensive player here. However long it takes, other guys are going to step up.”
The 27-year-old Watt left the field and headed to the locker room as Cincinnati marched for a tying touchdown in the final seconds of regulation. His left arm hung limply at his side, and he pointed toward his left chest/shoulder area while talking to coaches and trainers.
Watt made a leaping interception of Joe Burrow’s pass at the line in the first quarter, setting up Mitch Trubisky’s 2-yard TD pass to Najee Harris to give Pittsburgh a 17-3 lead.
Losing Watt would be a huge blow to the Steelers, who will have to rely on their defense while trying to get their offense on track. Watt tied the NFL single-season sacks record with 22 1/2 last season despite missing two games.
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