Had the Pittsburgh Steelers struggled through most of Monday night’s game, it would have been understandable.
All of the Steelers players looked shaken up after seeing linebacker Ryan Shazier leave the field after suffering a back injury, unable to move his legs. Linebacker Vince Williams appeared to be crying as Shazier was being looked at. That happened just a few minutes into the game.
It says a lot about the Steelers’ mental toughness that they were able to focus on winning a football game after that, especially after falling behind 17-0 early. The Steelers came all the way back to win 23-20 on a field goal as time expired. Ben Roethlisberger heated up in the second half, and the defense was crucial to the win.
The win was important in a football sense for the Steelers. They needed to win to keep pace with the New England Patriots for the best record in the AFC. But in the big picture, it seemed absolutely unimportant after Shazier’s injury. The Steelers reacted as you’d expect after seeing one of their teammates injured like that, and the Bengals jumped out to a big lead. But the game goes on, and the Steelers eventually pulled it together.
Pittsburgh entered the fourth quarter trailing 20-10. After a field goal, Antonio Brown caught a touchdown to tie the game, while taking an illegal shot to the head in the end zone. Brown, who was a game-time decision due to a toe injury, played a gutsy game and finished with eight catches for 101 yards.
The Steelers’ defense held after that, and the offense got into field-goal position in the final seconds. Chris Boswell’s 38-yard attempt as time expired gave the Steelers a win.
On most nights, a comeback like that would have been cause for a huge celebration. That didn’t happen. The Steelers trotted on the field after the game, but without much exuberance. Given what happened to Shazier early in the game, the win was secondary.
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