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If the chip fits ...

Minkah Fitzpatrick's determination was evident two snaps into the 2022 opener and still apparent with two seconds remaining in regulation.

In between, and throughout the 10-minute overtime required for the Steelers to escape Cincinnati with a 23-20 victory last Sunday, Fitzpatrick brought what he thought the defense needed and what he had to have in response to a 2021 campaign that disappointed individually and collectively.

"I was just trying to go out there and play with a chip on my shoulder," Fitzpatrick maintained. "Last year we obviously had a down year as a defense. I didn't have a terrible year last year but it wasn't a normal year for me. I just wanted to come out and make a statement as a defense, and I think we needed somebody to go out there and play with passion and play with energy against a division opponent, and that's what we did."

Fitzpatrick turned Joe Burrow's first pass of the season into a 31-yard pick six on the second offensive snap of the game.

And he extended it to overtime by blocking the extra point that would have put the Bengals ahead, 21-20, with two seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Fitzpatrick finished with 10 tackles and four assisted tackles.

And he was as combative as he was productive throughout, periodically engaging in verbal and physical post-whistle exchanges with Bengals players, running back Joe Mixon and wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, in particular.

"It's football," Fitzpatrick maintained. "I was just out there trying to do whatever we could to win the game.

"Whether that's frustrating my opponents, not letting them celebrate and do their thing, that's what I gotta do.

Fitzpatrick earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for a performance his teammates and coaches characterized as just another day at the office.

"Mink played like Mink does," defensive coordinator Teryl Austin assessed. "There's been some above-, way-above-board games and there's been above-board games. That was exceptional last week but he's given us that type of play and that type of effort and fire since he's been here.

"I'm anticipating him to play well like that."

Cornerback Cam Sutton considers Fitzpatrick capable of delivering even more than he did against the Bengals.

"I know he can," Sutton maintained. "That's just week in and week out him showing up and being ready to play, going out there and just attacking the ball, flying around and being physical."

Added cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon: "He's always just wired at another level. If the quarterback wants to involve him in the game that's the type of result you get.

"The plays he had on defense, the play he had on special teams, that's guys kind of inviting his special talents to kind of be put on display."

Fitzpatrick's feisty side was also on display against the Bengals.

At one juncture he slapped the ball out of Chase's hand after Chase had collected it following an incomplete pass.

There was also an encounter with Mixon after Fitzpatrick had chased Mixon down and tackled him out of bounds at the conclusion of a 31-yard run. Neither player appeared willing to give an inch as they jostled while trying to get untangled.

Fitzpatrick even had an arms-outstretched, palms-up gesture for an official following an incompletion a snap after Fitzpatrick had been called for unnecessary roughness after helping to break up a pass to wide receiver Tyler Boyd.

Austin loves all of it, even when the occasional penalty flag flies.

"He's trying to do everything by the letter of the law." Austin insisted. "He's not trying to hit the guy in the head, he's trying to shoulder him. He's trying to get him low in the body, and that's just kinda football.

"I'm not gonna slow that guy down. He's not a guy that gets a lot of penalties. He's not a guy that plays dirty. There's no way I'm slowing him down.

"The guy's a wonderful football player. I'm glad he's on our team."