Early in the third quarter of the Sunday Night Football game between the Steelers and Seahawks, Pittsburgh outside linebacker T.J. Watt was seen repeatedly trying to punch the ball out of the hands of Seahawks running back Alex Collins. It happened at the end of a first-and-goal play that occurred deep in Pittsburgh territory, while the Steelers were leading 14-0.
On the replay, one can see Watt taking at least four swings at the ball, two uppercuts and two overhand rights. Watt received a 15-yard personal foul penalty but many Twitter users felt last year’s Defensive Player of the Year runner-up should have been ejected.
NBC’s Cris Collinsworth: ‘It Looks Like Somebody’s Getting Assaulted’
Here’s what it looked like on replay, which prompted NBC announcer Mike Tirico to ask: “Did (Watt) punch (Collins) as he tried to punch the ball?”
“Is that illegal” wondered Tirico’s partner, Cris Collingsworth. “If it is … I mean, it looks like somebody is getting assaulted.”
Brooke Pryor, who covers the Steelers for ESPN, was more diplomatic about what transpired, saying, “TJ Watt was just shown essentially punching Alex Collins at the end of his run. Probably going for the ball, but it didn’t look great on the replay….”
Meanwhile, many other observers didn’t hold back when assessing what transpired.
Here’s how Nick Maraldo of the Pat McAfee Show saw things:
The Twitter account of the Cleveland Browns site Dawgs By Nature likened Watt’s effort to getting “jumped in” to a gang.
Meanwhile, FanDuel compared Watt’s actions to the following behavior.
A T.J. Watt Sack-Fumble Allowed the Steelers to Win in OT
As it turns out, the aforementioned incident wasn’t the only time Watt attempted to punch the ball out of a ball carrier’s hands on Sunday night.
With time winding down in overtime, Watt engineered a strip-sack of Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith, with the ensuing fumble recovered by Steelers inside linebacker Devin Bush Jr.
A few plays later, Steelers placekicker Chris Boswell booted a 37-yard field goal, allowing the Steelers to walk away with a 23-20 victory that upped the team’s record to 3-3.
Much of the credit for the victory has to go to Watt, who authored six tackles, one assist, two sacks and three passes defensed, as well as the forced fumble.
After the game he tweeted out a message of appreciation for the fans at Heinz Field, and countless Steelers fans replied, including one who quipped: “What’s your cash app you need more money,” a reference to Watt having recently signed a contract that made him the highest paid defender in NFL history.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh enters its bye week in last place in the AFC North, but still well within range of the first-place Baltimore Ravens, who are 5-1 after a 34-6 home win over the Las Angeles Chargers.
The Steelers return to action on October 31 with a game against the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
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