Outside linebacker T.J. Watt left the game late in the fourth quarter, and it’s now known that he suffered a torn pectoral muscle. Watt was seen grabbing at his left upper chest while walking off the field and signaling to Steelers staff that he needed attention.
Watt went to the locker room and did not return as the Bengals tied the game sending it to an overtime quarter that would see more back and forth, before the Steelers were able to secure the win with a Chris Boswell field goal in the final seconds of overtime.
After the game, the Steelers said that Watt was scheduled to undergo testing on Monday to confirm the diagnosis and determine the degree of the injury, but it would seem that the results from that test weren’t enough to create a definitive timeline as to Watt’s return.
On Monday, it was announced that Watt would seek both a second and a third medical opinion on Tuesday, September 13, before determining a plan of action for his recovery.
The injury may mean that the Pittsburgh linebacker could miss anywhere from six weeks—best case scenario for a low-grade tear—to months if it’s a higher-grade tear that requires surgery. Watt’s brother, J.J. Watt, suffered a similar injury in 2019 and missed eight weeks of the season before returning in time for the playoffs.
While the latter scenario would likely have Watt out for the majority of the 2022 season, even the best-case scenario means that it’s unlikely Watt would be available for Week 5 when the Buffalo Bills host Pittsburgh at Highmark Stadium.
In last year’s game between the Steelers and Bills, Watt was a one-man wrecking crew. He had 5 QB hits, 2 sacks, a forced fumble, and three tackles as the tip of the spear that disrupted Josh Allen and the Bills’ offense.
Watt, who plays outside linebacker and was drafted by the Steelers in 2017, entered the season with 294 tackles and 72 sacks over his five-year career. Pittsburgh lists Malik Reed as the only player behind Watt on their depth chart, however they have two right-side linebackers (Alex Highsmith and Jamir Jones) as well as five inside linebackers (Devin Bush and Miles Jack, followed by Robert Spillane, Mark Robinson, and Marcus Allen) and one nickel (Arthur Maulet) on the roster.
All eyes will be on Pittsburgh to see what adjustments are made in Watt’s absence as they prepare to face the New England Patriots on September 18.