During his postgame press conference on Monday night, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin indicated that fullback Derek Watt suffered a concussion when he was pushed into a Bengals punt returner while making a tackle very early in Monday night’s 27-17 loss.
On the replay, you can see that Steelers players immediately reacted with alarm in the wake of the hit, and Derek’s brother T.J., who plays outside linebacker for the Steelers, rushed onto the field to check on his brother and clear a space for Pittsburgh’s medical team.
At the same time, is appears that Derek’s other NFL playing brother was watching the game on television, as he tweeted out a message that said: “Worst feeling you can ever have watching a football game … ” before indicating that “it sounds like [Derek’s] going to be alright thankfully.”
Worst feeling you can ever have watching a football game.
Sounds like he’s going to be alright thankfully.
Thank you for all the thoughts & concerns.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 22, 2020
That sentiment was later echoed by Derek Watt himself, who figures to remain in concussion protocol as he recovers from the injury.
Just wanted to send a quick message to say thank you to everyone for the well wishes and let you know that I’m going to be ok.
— Derek Watt (@DerekWatt34) December 22, 2020
Flashbacks to December 2017
But the scene immediately brought to mind Ryan Shazier’s career-ending spinal cord injury, which also occurred during a December Monday night game in Cincinnati.
On that fateful night in 2017, the former Steelers inside linebacker suffered a spinal contusion that left him temporarily paralyzed from the waist down. He has since recovered to the point where he can walk unassisted, but he formally retired from the NFL this past September. Last month he launched a new non-profit, the Ryan Shazier Fund for Spinal Rehabilitation, which aims to provide various types of support for spinal cord injury (SCI) patients and their families.
Vonn Bell vs. JuJu Smith-Schuster
As for the other memorable collision from Monday’s game—by Bengals safety Vonn Bell on Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster—the Steelers did not make Smith-Schuster available to the media after the game, so we’ll have to wait at least a few days before we get his thoughts on Bell’s hit, and whether he believes his latest TikTok dance video gave Cincinnati added motivation to beat the Steelers.
In the runup to Monday night’s game, Bell said he regarded Smith-Schuster’s dancing as “kinda disrespectful,” and that the Bengals would respond by hitting him. As it turns out, Bell’s shot on Smith-Schuster forced a fumble that ultimately led to points for the Bengals, not to mention added momentum.
Here’s what Bell had to say following the game about “seeing 19”:
Vonn Bell on that hit on JuJu Smith-Schuster and seeing 19: pic.twitter.com/T0KjVyHAO9
— Santa Baby (@Ben_Baby) December 22, 2020
Steelers Now the No. 3 Seed in the AFC
With Monday night’s loss to the Bengals, the Steelers are now the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs and maintain a one-game lead on the Cleveland Browns with two games to go.
The Steelers can still clinch the AFC North with a win over the Indianapolis Colts (10-4) on Sunday (or a Browns loss to the one-win New York Jets). But if the Steelers lose to the Colts and the Browns (10-4) beat the Jets, the division title won’t be decided until the season finale, when Pittsburgh plays at Cleveland on January 3, 2021.
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