Every NFL season is filled with remarkable moments and plays. The Steelers' 2022 season was no different. Here is the first of the top five plays or moments of the season for the Steelers.
#2 MINKAH STEALS THE SHOW
During training camp at Saint Vincent College, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said he expected his defense to be great and dominant.
With All-Pro players such as outside linebacker T.J. Watt, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, defensive tackle Cam Heyward and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, why not?
"We have all of the talent in the world, all the experience in the world," Fitzpatrick said, agreeing with his head coach's assessment. "It's going to be a solid, solid defense all across the board."
Fitzpatrick didn't just talk the talk. In the team's regular season opener in Cincinnati against the Bengals, he walked the walk.
Heyward sacked Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow on the defense's first play from scrimmage. Fitzpatrick did his teammate one better on the defense's second play from scrimmage, intercepting Burrow and returning the ball 31 yards for a touchdown to give the Steelers a 7-0 lead.
Fitzpatrick read Burrow's eyes and jumped a pass intended for wide receiver Tyler Boyd, recording the first of his NFL-best six interceptions of the season.
The onslaught continued throughout the game, as the Steelers sacked Burrow seven times and picked him off on four occasions in a 23-20 overtime win.
Despite the interceptions and sacks, the Bengals mounted a second-half comeback, outsourcing the Steelers 14-3 in the third and fourth quarters.
But Fitzpatrick sent the game to overtime when he blocked Evan McPherson's PAT after the Bengals scored with 4 seconds remaining to tie the game.
Both teams missed field goals in overtime, but Arthur Maulet sacked Burrow and forced a fumble with 1:34 remaining in the extra period. The Bengals recovered the loose ball, but were forced to punt, giving the Steelers the ball back with just under one minute to play.
Mitch Trubisky connected on passes of 26 and 10 yards, and Boswell kicked a 53-yard field goal as time expired to give the Steelers the victory.
Fitzpatrick finished the game with a team-high 14 tackles to go along with his interception and a pass defensed, while Alex Highsmith had three of the Steelers' seven sacks. All told, the Steelers forced five turnovers.
"When you're playing Joe Burrow and company, you better get the ball somehow," Tomlin said. "They are not punting a lot. That's just the function of how some of these high-powered offenses and top-notch quarterbacks are.
"That's just the nature of today's game, so you better be prepared to take the ball away. That's why, culturally, we stress some of the things we stress in terms of taking the ball away."
The Steelers earned the victory, but it was a costly one. Watt left the game late in the fourth quarter with a pectoral injury that would sideline him for the team's next seven games.