The Pittsburgh Steelers came back to beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20. The team trailed 17-0 late in the second quarter and went into the half down 17-3. It turned into your classic Steelers-Bengals circus, filled with penalties, questionable hits, and a self-implosion by the Bengals. However, most of that nonsense, which is usually as entertaining as peak 90’s wrestling, was a secondary thought. The injury, and the status of linebacker Ryan Shazier, who left the game just four minutes and 32 seconds into it is now the most concerning issue surrounding the team and this game.
Ryan Shazier injury looms over Steelers comeback win
When you hear Ryan Shazier leaving a Bengals game with an injury, you think, who is the suspension going to? However, this was an injury where nobody is to blame. As you can see below, Shazier tackles with his head down, they connect in the wrong way, and Shazier is down.
Steelers LB Ryan Shazier was rushed to the hospital after this scary hit.🙏🙏🙏 pic.twitter.com/qnksXFemCd
— Sports Vortex 🅥 (@SportsVortex_) December 5, 2017
The most sobering part may not even be the hit, but the reaction. How you can see the moment he questions if he has feeling in his body and clenches his hands. It takes you completely away from the game of football and takes you into the life of Ryan Shazier. You stop thinking about the playoffs, and the New England Patriots, and start thinking about how excited you will be when you see Ryan Shazier walk again.
The hit and the loss obviously shook up this team. It would affect the team if it were any player. It is easy for these grown men to put themselves in that same players shoes.
However, Shazier is the defensive leader. He is looked at as the top player of the unit. This is a schematic and physical loss as much as it is an emotional loss. It showed as the Bengals relentlessly attacked Tyler Matakevich in the first half before he left the game due to an injury. The Steelers hung in, and with the thanks to penalties, boneheaded plays, and also strong conversions by the Steelers, the team erased the deficit, and picked up the win, moving onto 10-2. The ability to come back from those thoughts, in that environment in that time of game can be commended.
While the status of Shazier is completely unknown, it is fair to assume that the team should be ready to prepare for the rest of 2017 being without number 50. How the team reacts, and replaces him is completely unknown. How much do they trust L.J. Fort and Tyler Matakevich? On top of that, how Shazier progresses is now the most pressing issue around Steelers Nation and completely overshadowed anything else that happened after that point in the football game.