4 Winners and 3 Losers From Steelers Win Over Bengals

The Pittsburgh Steelers could put together a special season if they can find a way to be even mediocre on offense.

The Pittsburgh Steelers walked out of Paycor Stadium with a narrow, 23-20 win in overtime against their division rival, the Cincinnati Bengals.

They did it on the strength of a suffocating defensive performance and despite lackluster play from their offense but it came at a severe cost as multiple key defenders sustained injuries.

Here are three winners and three losers from their painful victory in the season opener.

Winners Steelers Secondary This group got contributions from up and down the lineup in complete domination of Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. He certainly gave them some gifts but the Steelers' defensive backs made him pay for every mistake. 

Winners Steelers Secondary Ahkello Witherspoon picked off Burrow once. Minkah Fitzpatrick did too and returned his for six points. Cam Sutton broke up a Burrow to Jamar Chase connection on fourth down, with his defense backed up against their own endzone late in the fourth quarter. 

Winners Steelers Secondary If only the offense could have converted the defense's half-dozen takeaways into points, that win might have been more comfortable. 

Winners Minkah Fitzpatrick Fitzpatrick deserves a second, distinct mention because he was the Steelers' most effective offensive weapon in addition to quarterbacking a defensive secondary that blanketed Cincinnati's talented receivers. 

Winners Minkah Fitzpatrick He led the team in tackles and scored one of the Steelers' two touchdowns on a 31-yard interception return. He was the Steelers' best player and there is no question they do not win if he is not there. Thay's $73 million well-spent. 

Winners Alex Highsmith Highsmith had a career day against the Bengals. He finished third on the team in tackles with nine and two stops for a loss. 

Winners Alex Highsmith He added three sacks and four hits on Joe Burrow for good measure. If T.J. Watt's injury is as serious as it appears, the Steelers will need more games like that from Highsmith. 

Winners Pat Friermuth The offense was stuck in the mud and facing a dwindling clock in overtime with the score knotted at 20. They needed some big plays and in that moment, Friermuth delivered. 

Winners Pat Friermuth He became the most dependable target for Mitch Trubisky, who connected with Friermuth for multiple first downs on the final, game-winning drive. Friermuth played a good game overall - accounting for 75 of the Steelers' 194 total passing yards. 

Losers Mitch Trubisky Trubisky didn't have a hard job against the Bengals. His defense spotted him seven points and short fields with six takeaways, but the offense still could only muster 17 points in regulation. Trubisky was tentative and looked unwilling to push the ball down the field and was inaccurate when throwing beyond the sticks. 

Losers Mitch Trubisky He came through in a clutch moment and orchestrated an eight-play, 45-yard drive that set up Chris Boswell's game-winning field goal, but some more aggressive, competent passing could unlock a new level of success for this team, which will clearly boast one of the best defensive units in the NFL. 

Losers George Pickens Pickens entered this season as one of the favorites to contend for Offensive Rookie of the year but his regular season debut was underwhelming, given what was expected of him. 

Losers George Pickens Pickens caught just one pass for three yards, which was partially due to some poor decision-making and passing from his quarterback, but Pickens only drew three targets. 

Losers George Pickens It's a long season, but Pickens is starting for a reason - the Steelers need him to play above his age and experience if hey hope to be successful and that kind of stat line will not cut it. 

Losers Steelers Defense After Losing T.J. Watt Three players have ever won Defensive player of the Year twice in a row - Lawrence Taylor, Aaron Donald and J.J. Watt. T.J. Watt got off to a good start in pursuit of joining that elite club, 

Losers Steelers Defense After Losing T.J. Watt recording three tackles for loss, a sack, an interception and two passes defended before exiting the game early with an apparent pec injury. 

Losers Steelers Defense After Losing T.J. Watt Watt will get an MRI on Monday to confirm or deny what is a devastating diagnosis, but for the time being a once-promising campaign has been derailed. 

Losers Steelers Defense After Losing T.J. Watt The Steelers will clearly need to lean on their defense to win games this season and losing Watt would make that strategy much more difficult. 

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